Archive for category Political Pungency

One of these days, the LDS will accidentally make sense

When people ask me questions like, “If you don’t believe in God, then why do you feel so threatened by God?” — and as inane as that question may sound, it’s intended to be serious, as it was when I recently tried to explain on Facebook to residents of Itawamba County, Mississippi the FFRF’s objection to Ten Commandments displays on government property — I point them toward infuriating bullshit like this.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes a bill sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen that would make Utah the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, citing unintended consequences that could come with use of the drug.

The state’s predominant faith is not taking a position on another measure, sponsored by Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City, and Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, that would allow extracts from the plant that do not contain the psychoactive chemical THC.

“Along with others, we have expressed concern about the unintended consequences that may accompany the legalization of medical marijuana,” LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement to The Tribune. “We have expressed opposition to Senator Madsen’s bill because of that concern. We are raising no objection to the other bill that addresses this issue.”

I don’t have a problem with god-belief itself, I have a real problem with religious institutions in this country, because with no meaningful exceptions, these backward-ass money-grubbing wish-peddlers don’t just want their followers bound to idiotic rules, they want everyone else in society bound by them too.

So what are the “unintended consequences” of THC (the medical benefits of which are absolutely undeniable). Oh my three-peckered god; you mean people might get *stoned*? Next thing you know, parents addled to the bejesus on weed will be telling their kids that the only true religion was founded less than 200 years ago by a philandering sex deviant and horse thief, that dinosaur bones come from other planets, and that dark-skinned people who convert to that religion will slowly turn white.

As Hemant Mehta points out, the LDS certainly was not concerned about real consequences to real people when it agitated furiously against Proposition 8 in California. But those nonexistent ones — oh boy!

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Correlation, Causation, Violent Crime and Guns

Perhaps you’ve come across this argument recently: The UK has a higher violent crime rate than the USA. And you know what else they have? Gun control! The argument hinges on a simple pair of coincident facts and a not-too-keen “connection” between them. Basically, the idea is that the violent crime rate is higher in the UK than in the USA because, in the UK, people don’t have guns to protect themselves. Further, a criminal in the USA doesn’t know whether or not a potential victim is carrying a firearm, and subsequently, is more cautious about attacking. In other words, the argument is you’re safer if there are no laws prohibiting or limiting gun ownership or where said guns may be carried.

Yes, it is true that the UK has gun prohibitions that the USA doesn’t. Does that explain the violent crime rate difference? What other correlations exist between the two countries? Well, the UK does have national health care and the USA doesn’t. Also, they love soccer and rugby instead of American football and baseball. Maybe that’s it. No wait, maybe the correlation is the number of non-white heads of state. (Sound of exploding conservative brains.)

The thing is, far from being an argument against gun control, this factoid is a very strong argument in favor of it. Consider two societies that are similar in many respects: a common language, a shared history, the same economic system, similar political systems, similar distribution and consumption of books, films, video games, etc., yet one country appears to have higher violent crime rates. The interesting rub is that this is not an across-the-board rate. While a rough estimate puts the overall violent crime rate in the UK at twice that of the USA, gun related homicides are roughly 50 times greater in the USA than in the UK. All other factors being equal, one would expect the gun-related homicide rate to echo the overall rate but this is not what we see. Clearly, though, all other factors are not equal. And what’s the most unequal factor? Why, the fact that it is very difficult for individuals in the UK to get their hands on firearms as compared to individuals in the USA. In other words, even if you have a desire to commit a violent crime with a gun, if you can’t get your hands on one, it becomes extremely difficult to pull that off. In other words, it’s an effective deterrent to said crime.

While it is true that some places in the USA have strict gun laws, the USA has never had sweeping country-wide laws regulating gun sales and gun ownership at anything beyond a token level and/or for relatively short spans of time. It is hardly “gun control” if, for example, a city bans handguns outright but with a short 10 minute drive to a neighboring state you can purchase firearms of a vast quantity and variety. This sort of patchwork is not the situation in the UK.

So it seems to me that an (admittedly imperfect) experiment has been performed. We have two similar societies. One has strict gun laws while the other does not. The one with the gun laws has a gun-related homicide rate that is 2% of the country without. This is not rocket science.


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The Dumbest Man in Congress?

Congressman Louie Gohmert on the Sandy Hook shootings:

Is he actually suggesting that the wild west is a great model for a modern, civilized society? This man is about as smart as a box of rocks.

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Bitter know-nothings are fulfilling their obligation…

…to try to make the entire GOP look like a bunch of howling, ignorant screwballs.

In the course of looking for a detailed county-by-county election-results map, I happened across a blog called “Give Us Liberty 1776,” which is apparently a reference to the year in which a present-day country the blog creators know little about declared its independence from the British Empire.

The first post that caught my eye was titled “Obama did not win a single state that requires photo IDs to vote.” I didn’t have to read a single word of the post itself to formulate a response, but I did, and the level of dishonesty and ignorance in this surreal waste of time and effort is extreme even by the standards of a Wingnut Daily contributor.

I left a comment that most likely will not be approved by the mods. Here it is: Read the rest of this entry »

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Two reasons the general public doesn’t abhor lying

I bring this up because I’m greedy. I’m not intellectually satisfied by Romney’s narrowly losing the election. 48 percent of Americans who voted this cycle chose Romney, and given what a moral-ethical cripple he proved himself to be — not only during his wreck of a campaign but well before it even started — I find this appalling. One may plausibly argue that President Obama didn’t do a bang-up job, even allowing for the unusual level of adversity and contempt he faced when he took office in 2009, but no one can sensibly argue that he is in the same solar system as the Romney-Ryan thermonuclear bullshit plant.

I understand and accept that a lot of people will simply pull the lever for the candidate representing their political party of choice without looking any deeper, but even allowing for such a crass and superficial approach to civic proceedings, it is undeniable that anyone who voted for Mitt Romney, especially given his ramshackle choice of a running mate, simply does not care how freely and unabashedly Romney prevaricates. That, or they don’t notice or don’t believe it, which from the standpoint of fitness for voting is just as bad.

Most parents, even those who exhibit a variety of non-nurturing behaviors (excessive drinking or drugging, physical or other abuse, neglect), instill the idea in their kids that lying is wrong. Even parents who consciously tell lies don’t typically want their kids to lie, at least not to them and presumably in general. So Americans can be said to value honesty at some level. Even fundamentalist Christians who spout arrant bullshit about the afterlife and the universe in general aren’t lying; they’re merely wrong.

So why do we put up with it from our own leaders and potential leaders? Do we simply overlook it, or is there some kind of compromise at work? I see two basic reasons: Read the rest of this entry »

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A Lot of Money

Like many scientists and engineers I deal with very large and very small numbers daily. Sometimes, though, it is easy to lose perspective. Whenever I want to get a more visceral grasp on the relative size of something I make a similar ratio using stuff from the everyday world.

Consider money.  You can map quantities of currency onto scalar distance to get a feel for just what constitutes a lot of money. Suppose one US dollar is equivalent to half of an inch. That’s a little less than the diameter of a dime or about the diameter of a AA battery. So $1000 would be 500 inches or a little over 40 feet (nearly 13 meters).

What’s a lot of money for most folks? How about one million dollars? It’s about 20 times the median annual household income in the US and noticeably larger than the “nest egg” most people hope to retire on. Well, a million dollars equates to roughly eight miles in this scheme. A dime versus eight miles. Pretty big, right?

Contrast this to a billion dollars. A billion dollars is roughly the diameter of the Earth. So, think of how wide a dime is and then think of how wide the Earth is. That’s a billion to one ratio. Now there are people on this planet Earth who are billionaires. For example, the Koch brothers and several members of the Walton (Walmart) family are each worth in the neighborhood of 20 billion dollars. That’s 20 or more Earths lined up side-by-side. In comparison, if you have $100,000 in the bank, that’s equivalent to about 1400 yards.

At this point it is worth noting that the Supreme Court has pretty much said that money equates to free speech. So how loud do you think your voice is now?

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The Week that Was in…What?

The Johnson twins, who run — long the pre-eminent distance-running site on the Web thanks to sheer game energy predominating over questionable self-importance and various flagrant abuses of Web design and language — have often been maligned for their conservative political stance, which has crept into their message-board climate. This, it seems, is largely the result of a basic stats principle, tendency-toward-the mean: In this case, the more people involved, the more likely it is that those people will reflect the general intellectual proclivities, tenor, and abuses of the population at large. That is, if this were a place with only 100 or so regulars, one would not be surprised to find, for example, a preponderance of Obama supporters or agnostics; but with thousands of daily denizens, the weight of FOX-vs-MSNBC, Dems-vs-Repubs, realists-vs-creationists on Letsrun is highly representative of the populace at large.

That’s fine; if the reportage of relevant content is on-the-money, which it usually is, it shouldn’t matter what the proprietors think or adhere to (think liking a Tom Cruise flick in spite of knowing the guy is a flake, or respecting Madonna’s music even though she may seem a moron). Still, I’m surprised at the extremes the Johnsons have gone to lately — and that’s my mistake, given the message-board-moderation direction over the years and the fact that this is an election year in which the GOP is looking hapless-to-pathetic.

From today’s “The Week that Was,” presumably in running:

That ad on the left is just fucked-up, and this would be the case without the ghastly and unabashedly ruthless fiscal realities engendered by the Bush administration. (That’s all I will opine on the specific politics of the matter.) The site deserves a source of revenue, and if I were in the Johnsons’ shoes I might whore myself out in the same way for a left-wing cause…but I doubt it. For whatever reason this just smacks of self-parody. What Could Happen To The White House if Aliens Representing a Hybrid of George Will and Ted Nugent Took Over Washington? I don’t know, but the WorldNet Daily might.

You won’t believe me, but I would find such lowbrow pandering on behalf of the left equally bizarre-cum-pathetic. I already do. I guess in part I’m just tired of listening to well-meaning Wal-Mart clerks express contempt for the current administration because their personal circumstances suck (and this is not a metaphorical assesment) and wish they would at least give weight to the fullness of the “debate,” but more than anything else I suppose I am just in my usual mode of not tolerating intellectually devoid messages of any sort.

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A Healthy, Fundamental Right

If one were to make a list of healthy hobbies, that list would probably include distance running, bicycling, rowing, skiing, hiking, swimming, and a variety of other self-locomotive activities. If a second list were to be created that detailed fundamental rights which need to be protected, it’s a safe bet that it would include items such as the rights of self-determination, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and so forth. What’s the intersection of these two lists? Just ask my Congressman.

New York’s 24th district is represented by Richard Hanna, a conservative Republican millionaire who was swept in with the Tea Party surge of 2010. Now that the next election is less than a year away, we have begun receiving mailers from the Congressman informing us of the important work that he has been supporting. One arrived just the other day. The winning line for me was the following:

“Hunting, fishing, shooting, snowmobiling, and trapping are not only healthy hobbies – they’re fundamental rights that need to be protected.”

Apparently, sitting behind a loud two-cycle engine and breathing its exhaust is both healthy and a fundamental right. So is standing around and shooting at a target. And certainly everyone admits that fishermen and hunters are known for their buff physiques and strong hearts.

For the most part I don’t really care whether or not someone finds fishing or snowmobiling or the like to be a fun pastime. We each have our preferences.  I think it’s a bit of a stretch, though, to describe some of these things as healthy or fundamental rights.

Unless, of course, you’re trying to reach out to your base. In that case it’s better apparently to make them feel better about themselves and mention minor, tangential items that you support than to address the large concerns and necessary legislation that will, in fact, actually help people in a major way.


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Woe there, Gribbit!

As always, I can’t resist the combination of supreme confidence and spectacular ignorance. It’s what made NBC’s The Office — the central theme of which is Michael Scott’s unremitting self-delusion concerning his own capabilities and esteem — such a hit. And it’s what makes Gribbit, the rabidly anti-socialism blogger who lives on a government paycheck, such an enchanting wreck of a commentator. (Unlike Scott, Gribbit lacks the sort of nominal charm and that accompanies good-hearted cluelessness and guilelessness, and is merely a malignant asshole. (His attempts to keep people from cutting and pasting, or even linking to, his content are also a continued source of amusement.)

Gribbit is again playing the “you should have listened to me” game again with this incoherent rant about…well, Obama and stuff, which begins with this: Read the rest of this entry »


Rick Perry doesn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change…

…and in a similarly shocking vein, certain Jamaicans are suspected of cultivating marijuana.

One nice thing about leaving my otherwise treasured home state of New Hampshire is that I don’t have to see first-hand the parade of Republican hopefuls who — thanks to New Hampshire having the nation’s first presidential primary election — begin flooding the place in pre-election years when there’s a Democrat or two-term GOP-er in the White House. This year, more than in any other, virtually all of them hold fifth-degree idiotbelts, from the no-hopers to Obama’s potential adversaries. It’s a sad day when someone like Mitt Romney has to be given credit for admitting that human-caused climate change is at least worth a look.

Rick Perry, the Texas governor known as much for his coif as his stances, told a crowd in Bedford that he’s a global warming skeptic. This in itself is no surprise. Perry represents a state with colossal fossil-fuel interests and has previously hit all of the podunk low points, from advocating “Intelligent Design” to opposing same-sex marriage to condemning abortions. As someone pandering to a citizenry like Texas’s, he has no choice but to support such causes. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Trust me — I have first-hand knowledge,” says serial liar

Whenever I develop an unhealthy desire to learn what Idiot America’s latest delusional belief system has bred, I check out Gribbit’s blog, since at all times he reliably has his clubbed and syndactylous fingers on the pulse of the feeble and fluttering heart of right-wing stupidity.

Gribbit’s posts invariably assume one of two forms. He either makes claims based on his skimming of either self-parodic “news” sources such as WorldNet Daily or mainstream articles he doesn’t understand (and often say the opposite of what he thinks they do) or he skips the sources part and flat-out makes shit up. His latest post is an example of the latter. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reason Magazine on the celebration

Writes Radley Balko, very reasonably:

I’m relieved that bin Laden is dead. And the Navy SEALs who carried out the harrowing raid that ended his life have my respect and admiration. And for all the massive waste and abuse our government has perpetrated in the name of fighting terrorism over the last decade, there’s something satisfying in knowing that he was killed in a limited, targeted operation based on specific intelligence.

But because of the actions of one guy, we allowed all the bullet points above to happen. That we managed to kill him a decade after the September 11 attacks is symbolically important, but hardly seems worth the celebrations we saw across the country last night. There was something unsettling about watching giddy crowds bounce around beach balls and climb telephone polls last night, as if they were in the lawn seats at a rock festival. Solemn and somber appreciation that an evil man is gone seemed like the more appropriate reaction.

Yes, bin Laden the man is dead. But he achieved all he set out to achieve, and a hell of a lot more. He forever changed who we are as a country, and for the worse. Mostly because we let him. That isn’t something a special ops team can fix.

via Osama Won – Hit & Run : Reason Magazine.

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The killing of bin Laden and presidential approval

This may come as a surprise to you, but if you look around and listen to or read what a lot of people are saying, you will discover that a lot of Americans are not especially deep thinkers.

In 2001, right after the 9/11 terror attacks, President Bush went on television to address the nation. He was plainly a grieving man and a stricken leader, his emotions laid bare for the world to see in the wake of events so senselessly violent that most of us could not comprehend them no matter how many times the WTC towers were shown falling in film footage. Bush’s approval rating soared through the roof at that time — to an almost equally incomprehensible 90 percent or so (even a three-fourths approval rating is rare these days) — all on the basis of his performance for the cameras, because for once it wasn’t a performance. But really, how much credit should people get for being themselves? If Bush hadn’t been deeply moved by the carnage, we should have judged him a sociopath.

And so it is now with President Obama and the killing of Osama bin Laden. As a humanist, I’m glad his miltary assailants shot him dead and, in fact, that’s surely what he wanted in the end anyway. I have yet to see any poll results, but people are already treating this as a matter of grave political relevance: Obama did what Bush couldn’t — a second term awaits! And on the other side, Don’t credit Obama, he had little to do with it! Looks at the economy!

Anyone who thinks that Obama made a difficult call once his intelligence officers told him where bin Laden is hiding is an idiot. This is as much as a slam-dunk as anyone can imagine. Even the most affirmed pacifists are not shedding tears over this ugly fucker’s demise. Not killing him, or failing to capture him somehow, would have been political suicide for Obama if news that he had possessed these option had leaked. Offing him had absolutely no downside. I would go so far as to say that Obama’s camp might view this as an event likely to sway a few “Obama is a radical Muslim” types in the general tottering direction of reason, but that crew is far too entrenched in its collective lunacy to be moved by facts or anything else.

I don’t think that judging our presidents on that basis of how much they weep over the fiery deaths of thousands of innocent American civilians or whether they take out the most hated terrorist in history is much of a place to start.

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The KKK wants its utopian vision of America back

Whoops, sorry. Not the Klan but the Tea Party, not that I doubt that this wild-eyed idiot from Jacksonville owns a white hood or two.

I remember being a kid and hearing the joke “I don’t hate blacks, I think everyone should own one!” Even the ten-year-olds slinging that one around understood that it was both ironic and in poor taste. Amazingly, there are people like Grady Warren who manage to reach adulthood fully believing that as long as you declare yourself to be a non-racist while you detail a long list of deficiencies you believe are the sole purview of certain ethnic groups, then you’re not racist.

These people are fascinating in that they continually force other teabaggers into scrambling to deploy the “No true Scotsman” fallacy. There are plenty of people who consider themselves Tea Partiers solely because they want to pay fewer taxes, just as there are fiscal conservatives who will always vote Republican even though they have no use for religion and climate-change denialism. Too bad — everyone wants to pay fewer taxes the last time I checked, and regardless of whatever the people behind the “real” teabagger movement supposedly wanted when they kicked the whole circus into action, it’s nothing but a teeming refuge of ugly hypocrites and the worst shitbags the United States has to offer. I’m sure all of these visionaries like Grady Warren are quite pleased that Ron Paul Font color=red>is popularly portrayed as someone who doesn’t much care fer nigras, Jews, and faggits hisself neither.

The “America” these rednecks yearn for has never existed except in the hollowed-out caverns of their own minds. The last time anything close to it did exist, it was a chunk of land that was technically no longer part of the same country. Really, it would just be so much more pleasant for everyone else if these worthless hominids would just gather in some forgotten place where they could make their own laws and currency, be as white and proud as possible, not pay taxes, and see how long their post-intellectual civilization could exist.

(NOTE: Addendum in red made at 10:48 p.m. EDT. Someone pointed out that the New Republic article I linked to was written by someone who has been widely denounced as a left-wing hack. Some comments Paul made recently about an experience with abortion he had as medical intern took some of the shine off of him in my eyes, but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether the racism label is well-earned or not at all earned. It’s the fact that Paul is perceived by a lot of racists as someone who sympathizes with their views that is most important, and if the label isn’t appropriate then chalk up another score for shitty journalism.)


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Not to *directly* compare Michele Bachmann to the Ebola virus…

…but whenever I’m exposed to images and sounds of her, it’s like my internal organs are liquefying, a thermonuclear popcorn popper filled with ground glass is roaring away inside my skull, and my eyeballs are being burned out with nitric acid. I stress that I’m not being insensitive to victims of fatal viral illnesses here, and it is not an ideal comparison.

That’s essentially the latest from the studiously unhinged sort-of-almost-candidate-for-president Michele Bachmann, the proudly mindless congresswoman from a rich district in Minnesota who — along with Romney and Bloomberg and no small handful of others and now the Trump ape — epitomizes the reality of political aspirations these days: They’re about wealthy people entertaining themselves, not about wanting to lead, for better or for worse. Read the rest of this entry »


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Shorter NH GOP to the mentally ill: If you can’t pay, you won’t get it

I may unload on a lot of people and institutions, but this stuff gets me boiling like little else can. In part:

“We’re changing the mandate that says the agency must care for all to one that says the agency can triage,” said division Chairman Neal Kurk, a Weare Republican who proposed the language.

The new language states that if a person does not have the ability to pay for mental health services, the responsible agency “may conduct a clinical assessment and may prioritize services based on clinical needs. Emergency services may be provided as appropriate.” The amendment would also add language stating that admission to the state’s mental health services system and access to treatment “shall be contingent upon the availability of appropriations.”

I imagine these shitweasels understand that their ham-handed soft-pedaling of the language in this bill and elsewhere is not fooling anyone, but at least they have the courage to try.

People are angry at the comments from “sailmaker,” a chronic and not at all creative troll. I don’t bother. Most us us know by now just what characterizes the kind of people who haunt newspaper comment forums and the Web in general, making it their raison d’etre to complain about liberal socialist evils. They are most notable for pointing fingers at others and forgetting, or trying to, that they have three pointing back at them. I have almost do doubt that sailmaker is a major player in his own (possibly apocryphal) account, just like Gribbit is. He’s probably either been on disability for a mental condition himself or wasn’t approved for it, or failing that is upset that his physical problems didn’t qualify him for one of the government handouts he claims to hate so much. And I am in no way making a reactionary or spiteful comment–just contextualizing it for those who might think sailmaker is simply evil.

Applying for SSDI is a lot more involved and much harder than people realize. One of my friends is an attorney who specializes in Social Security law and is an advocate for people with mental illness. She grew up in a series of unstable sitations and was abused in all sorts of ways, but is sanguine enough now to realize that just because she was able to overcome lots of resultant depression and so on and establish professional standing, it doesn’t work that way for everyone.

It’s easy to bash along party lines, and I try to avoid it despite appearances, but in some cases a broad brush paints clearly, and this is one of them. Every single time the GOP makes any kind of move concerning health care, whether it’s mental health or women’s health or whatever, the singular goal is to leave needy people in the lurch or intrude into their bedrooms. There’s nothing else, ever. And they weave inelegant and shameless fictions when they do it.

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More from the party of “less government”

Do people know what they’re really voting for when they pull the lever for clowns who propose things like this? Actually, this probably is a bad example; many Republican voters probably agree with this unapologetically intrusive idea, because they’re just as hypocritical as the people they elect.

GOP Bill Would Force IRS to Conduct Abortion Audits

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans’ “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they’d have to detemine [sic], from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.

In other words, it’s the same old story: Keep the government out of people’s lives when it comes to guns, seat belts, and the “right” to force religious myths into government-run institutions, but impose stiff regulations on women’s bodies, carnal relations between same-sex couples, and driving around while having brown skin. Now they’re aiming to have an arm of the government many on the right want to see abolished carry out something they have no right to do. Let’s hear it for Fudders. Fucking idiots.

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Concord, N.H., Concord, Mass. — is there a difference?

I was born and raised in the former, so maybe I have an unfair advantage over Michele Bachmann. Or maybe someone making noises about running for president of the United States should have a somewhat better grasp of American history than the wild-eyed teaharpy displayed this morning during a speech in Manchester (the one in New Hampshire):

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire got off to a rocky start on Saturday morning when she misstated a key fact about the American Revolution in a speech to a group of local conservative activists and students.

“What I love about New Hampshire and what we have in common is our extreme love for liberty,” the potential GOP presidential candidate said. “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord. And you put a marker in the ground and paid with the blood of your ancestors the very first price that had to be paid to make this the most magnificent nation that has ever arisen in the annals of man in 5,000 years of recorded history.”
In fact, the 1775 Battles of Lexington and Concord that marked the first military engagements of the American Revolution took place in Massachusetts. But Bachmann did not correct her error when she referenced the battles again later in her speech.

I wish I could say that this sort of thing startles me, but it no longer does. It also doesn’t surprise me that Bachmann’s supporters, whoever they are, not only aren’t given pause by this kind of aggravated ignorance but somehow rally around it. After all, this is pretty close to the truth:

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This is a free country, so if you disagree with me, get the fuck out

Ordinarily this kind of reasoning would seem to guarantee a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. However, when cognition consists of a series of unsophisticated reflex arcs rather than anything that engages the cerebrum, there can be no associated conflict.

An article in yesterday’s Concord Monitor described a New Hampshire family’s unsuccessful lawsuit against the government: Read the rest of this entry »

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When tax policy meets the Farrelly brothers

There are (at least) two kinds of rhetorical questions: the usual kind, in which the respondent at least understands the questioner’s position even if he or she disagrees with it, and the kind intended to demonstrate errors of reasoning but fly over the head of the respondent, who plows on gaily in the belief that everyone’s in agreement.

This makes little sense without examples. For the first, try this:

Runner: “I’m going to run 50 miles a day to get ready for my next marathon.”
Coach: “Isn’t that a little much?”
Runner: “Probably, but you never know your limits until you put them to the test!”

The second is well exemplified by one of the many hilarious exchanges in the film There’s Something About Mary: Read the rest of this entry »

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