Archive for category Political Pungency

Obamacare: Source of angst, source of lies

I have been a beneficiary of the Affordable Care Act since the first open enrollment in January 2014. As a freelancer of long standing, I hadn’t had health insurance in almost ten years. When I filled out the online application at the Colorado Connect site (a technical Hindenburg, then and now) and told them I was essentially a self-employed business owner who expected to earn X that year, I was surprised to get a card in the mail just a few days later that includes a very decent plan. They asked for no verification of any of the info I’d supplied them, and have renewed my coverage twice now with no help from me.

So, I have no personal complaints. But I am sanguine enough to acknowledge that this says nothing about the experience of other people, and I am close with a few of them who have less than glowing things to say about the bureaucracy managing the ACA show here in Colorado. Moreover, the healthcare system in this country remains a nightmare for many. And while it makes no sense to blame President Obama personally or declare the program an on-balance failure — clearly, some people will thrive under the system at the expense of others, and I don’t think anyone in the know suggested this wouldn’t be the case — it is very easy to do this, because a large segment of the population is sufficiently bitter and blinkered to draw a direct line of causality between America having black Democratic president and their persistent case of anal warts.

I’ve just described the perfect storm for right-wing bloggers are pseudo-journalists, many of whom seem to prefer writing dishonestly to experiencing orgasms, to embark on a prolonged and gleeful misinformation spree. You’ve got angry right-wingers, lots of polls about health insurance, plausible debate over the overall effectiveness of the ACA in doing what it was intended to do (there are far more articles echoing this and this than stories offering opposing ideas in major media outlets, but we all know what the Yosemite Sam Brigade has to say about the mainstream media). That adds up to carte blanche for conservative “reporters” to throw meat scraps at the starving low-information piranhas just looking for one more reason to bitch about socialism, liberals, and (in the right company) blacks. Never mind that the meat is actually Tofurky or some such vegan impostor; stoking the fury of the pig-ignorant masses is critical. If you can do this by attaching a whole ton of deceitful shit to a central kernel of truth or even faint legitimacy, you’ve done your job and your site’s hit count will rise.

I found a great example yesterday Read the rest of this entry »

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That’s not what “information” means, sir

The greatest thing about unintentional irony is that its power to amuse is immune to the sands of time.

We live, of course, in an era in which every slack-minded crusader with Internet access seems to think that his frantic and delusional ideas about politics, religion and life in general merit a personal blog. This has boosted the number of people publicly expressing thoughts that are not only profoundly stupid but also magnificently oblivious to levels no observer could have predicted even twenty years ago. Nevertheless, every new addition to the canon of “Look at the pile of chocolate it looks like I stepped in! Why does it stink?” is just as entertaining as the ones preceding it. If nothing else, these actors are largely insulated from uncomfortable emotions such as shame and embarrassment, because they lack the intellectual candlepower to see how badly off the mark their shots invariably fall.

Hence my fascination with Granite Grok. Read the rest of this entry »

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Camille Paglia on Election 2016: Whether 2 plus 2 might equal 5 for sufficiently large values of 2 is anyone’s guess

This is unbelievably bad by the standards of both Salon and Camille Paglia, which is like saying that Donald Trump just said something amazingly ignorant about foreign policy, the economy, Christiani…oops! I’m not supposed to do that, because, see, as Paglia scolds, liberals are responsible for the explosive rise of Trump to the top of the Republican shitheap. (Andrew Sullivan has been saying the same thing, almost as tediously and tendentiously.)

Paglia asserts that Democrats have been “playing the race and riot cards against him to the max.” While I’ve never heard of the “riot card” before. I am mystified as to what the appropriate response to people disturbed by racist comments from a leading political candidate should look like. Feigning deafness? Nervous giggling? Sighing, “Ah, that scamp, he’s a bit much, but he’s just trying to breathe life into things”?

Paglia seems oblivious to the fact that Republicans have been pillorying Trump for the same things, as loudly as they dared, throughout the campaign. Well, except for respected voices such as David Duke, The American Freedom Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and various other Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, who in viewing Trump as a racist might as well be shouting their closet liberalism from the rooftops, on Paglia’s view.

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Curious George Will

George Will is a hack. A very glib one, who can deftly turn a phrase and whose columns are usually worth a read for their literary dynamism alone. But he’s still nothing more than a blindly partisan shill.

Here he proclaims that Donald Trump has done serious damage to the Republican Party, but that the destruction has only really just started and that if he’s nominated, the damage will only multiply. What he ignores is that Trump didn’t himself knock the down the door allowing undisguised bozos to walk into the GOP clubhouse; other Republicans started tearing this door off its frames years ago, and Trump has merely strolled through the now-unguarded opening, yammering and telling off-color jokes in a manner reminiscent of Rodney Dangerfield’s character in “Back to School.” Trump did not create Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Mitch McConnell, Michele Bachmann, Bobby Jindal, Steve King, Jan Brewer, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Rick Scott, Orrin Hatch, Paul LePage, Mike Pence, Sam Brownback, or, most recently, Pat McCrory or Robert Bentley.

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When everything you say is a witty rejoinder

then-why-are-there-still-wolves-meme-320-px-tiny-Dec-2015-Tetrapod-ZoologyIt must be nice, in a sense, to be sufficiently simple-minded to believe that every analogy, comparison and analysis you create or borrow —  even when every last one is a dismal logical failure — is are not only coherent, but clever. (On top of that, fart jokes and Bazooka Joe comics are, no doubt, a never-ending gift of titillation to abject simpletons.) One such trope that is unlikely to disappear is “If we’re evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” This is the kind of outburst that, despite being inexcusably stupid on multiple levels, can cause whole congregations to erupt in wild, heartfelt applause.

And on the topic of self-reinforcing inanity, I just read this in one of several manufacturing plants of self-contained electronic ketamine that I really should quit frequenting:

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Just braying: regarding a boilerplate “We’re not bigots, it’s about the kids!” rant

I admit that in my experience, people who are overly fond of the phrase “just saying” usually have few if any intelligent things to say. It’s a close  rhetorical cousin of “‘Nuff said” and “True dat.” Unbeknownst to those who use it, the phrase is essentially code for “I know you’ll tear into this and rightly so, but I can’t help myself,” and shallow thinkers often append it to written or spoken opinions as a means substituting glibness for reason. It’s like saying “My bad” instead of offering a real apology or some sort of reparations for harm done, and does nothing to bolster an irredeemably foolish idea.

So when I happened across this startlingly stupid post by someone named Kathy Dunton on a blog with a title that starts with “Just Saying,” I was admittedly not expecting much of substance or value. Still, even the most open-minded reading of this bullshit does nothing more than open one’s mind to being flooded with bullshit. As it were. Get my drift? You feelin’ me? Werd!

The post is an open letter of sorts to transgender people, and asks them to understand that recent legislation coupling clear anti-transgender motives and actions to a dose of straight-up anti-gay nonsense isn’t really about transphobia or homophobia; it’s about keeping kids safe from sexual predators.

Taking it from the top:

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“Don’t listen to him, he’s as dumb as me! Listen to me instead!”

Sometimes the lack of basic reasoning skills possessed by pseudo-pundits like Sarah Palin is as profound as their general ignorance.

Palin is claiming that Bill Nye lacks the credentials and background to be commenting on scientific issues like global warming — even comparing him to *herself* by way of trying undermine his statements.

Even if she were right about Nye, who worked as an engineer for years before becoming the popularizer of science he’s best known for being, how does she expect to be taken seriously if she admits that she has no business talking about about climate change even as she continues offering her own childishly stupid ideas about it? How intellectually crippled does one’s audience have to be to hear someone say, almost flat-out, “Don’t listen to him, he’s as dumb as me! Listen to me instead!”

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Invariably dropping the “f” in”pro-life”

“I think about the public outcry that there was for an elk, and I think about the thousands of babies — healthy, full-term babies — that are killed down the street from where they paraded a stupid elk down the road.”

So spoke Abby Johnson to about 300 people on the campus of the University of Colorado as part an anti-abortion talk, or rant, or fever-dream soliloquy, or whatever description best fits

Abortion is an unpleasant topic and for obvious reasons is extremely emotionally charged. This, however, no excuse for slinging bullshit. If self-described anti-abortion crusaders were barred from lying or making abysmal analogies at nearly every opportunity, almost all of them would immediately fall mute. Read the rest of this entry »

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Being John Milkovich…

…means being a stinky-assed liar.

It’s one thing to remain a creationist in the face of incalculable amounts of scientific evidence undermining every possible rational justification for your position — to just stick out your tongue and say “Fuck y’all, I’m a Faptist and CHOOSE to believe the Bible.”

But it’s another thing to sit in a legislative session and proclaim with a straight face to your colleagues that there exists scientific evidence to support creationism. Even the most far-gone idiot knows this…I think.

Imagine the outrage that would ensue if some elitist liberal politician with a bunch of letters after her name stood up in told U.S. Congress that the latest research in psychology demonstrates that raising your child to believe anything in the Bible would likely lead to bedwetting, ADHD, compulsive masturbation, fecal incontinence, acne, intractable body odor, and a fondness for Justin Bieber in adolescence. People would rightfully start demanding evidence for this claim, which is on no less solid ground than Milkovitch’s.

(This guy is a Democrat, by the way.)

 

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What’s their excuse when it’s not April 1? (Anti-abortion edition)

While it’s amusing to watch the misplaced triumph of creationists after lobbing a nonsense challenge at an atheist and getting no answer, be sure not to give short shrift to the garbage that some abortion opponents come up with. For example:

“If human life doesn’t begin at conception, can you please explain how human life is possible absent conception?”

Not surprisingly, this is what this passes for a “Gotcha!” question among these fools: Two strawmen for the price of one, or if you prefer, a flawed premise coupled to a non-sequitur. Read the rest of this entry »

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And I’m on the fence when it comes to religion

Every now and then, I come across a fifth-degree right-winger who incessantly let fly with contemptuous right-wing blather, yet for whatever reason likes to claim that he or she is in the political middle.

I’ve already given one example here recently; Ed Naile, a registered Democrat from New Hampshire, spends virtually all of his boundless free time complaining about phantom examples of vote fraud by Democrats and other leftist solecisms, such as literacy, educational attainment, resisting racism and sexism wherever possible, and not substituting firearms for the ability to achieve an erection.

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A warning to dumb, ugly men everywhere

That’s not the most gracious of post titles, but I might as well try my hand at clickbait. Since I last spent a significant amount of time blogging — and it’s been a solid five years or more —  all of the cool bloggers, along with the far greater number of riotously expendable ones, have found new ways to attract site traffic. Obnoxious or contentious post titles have always been a part of the scheme, but now that there are far more blogpiles to choose from, a lot of people have upped the clickbait ante.

None of which is to say that this post isn’t about dumb, ugly men, as it assuredly is. More than that, though, it’s about irony. The sort of giddy, high-caliber irony that arises when people have no capacity whatsoever to keep themselves in check though self-appraisal. Irony in onion-like layers, complete with the potential for tears.
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“Let the people decide” to eat shit

Anyone who uses the phrase “let the people decide” with regard to the vacant SCOTUS seat, like this guy does, is advertising either shameless dishonesty or a mental deficiency or a combination of these. (In this case, based as much on the author’s mini-bio as on this one essay, I suspect that both factors are at work. He refers to “the current president’s constant barrage against guns and gun ownership,” a purported salvo that seems to have passed unnoticed outside of the Dumberdome.*)

A refresher for those with infantile views of the U.S. Constitution: The U.S. President is elected by U.S. citizens, and in turn that President is tasked with nominating justices to the Supreme Court. That’s as much of a say as “the people” get to have in the nomination process. By now, all but maybe eight people in the United States know this — even the most abject Yosemite Sam Party types cannot stave off reality entirely — but that doesn’t mean that any of the right-wingers are obligated to admit it.

Another piece of fruit from the garden of obvious: If the current President were a Republican and had named another far-right judge to replace Antonin Scalia immediately after that bloated gasbag finally went to Jesus, not one of these neoconservatives in the Rick Manning camp, from Mitch McConnell on down to every blinkered hypocrite posting on shitblogs like Granite Grok, would be saying a word about what “the people” want. “People” in this case is just lazy code for “Right-wing douchebags.”

*I’ll explain this one later.

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SURVEY time! (Insane Clown Trumpkins edition)

Over the past nine or so months, we’ve all seen a disturbing progression in the U.S. presidential race  from divisive public comments to unpretentiously inflammatory “go-get-’em” rhetoric to outbreaks of real violence, all of which curiously center on a single candidate — one whose propensity for overstated, aggressive blather was well-established considerably in advance of his launching his campaign.
 
In your opinion, which of the following best applies to the immediate future of the United States?
 
A. The tumult, ugly though it’s been, has at least peaked. Donald Trump will urge the noisiest of his bellicose followers to save their antics for scheduled KKK meetings and NASCAR events, and most will grudgingly listen.
 
B. Trump, who never actually meant anything he said during those many “go-get-’em” speeches, will order the Bernie Sanders acolytes and MoveOn members who are uniquely responsible for the violence to avoid his publicly staged rallies, thereby preserving Trump’s own oft-violated First Amendment rights.
 
C. President Obama will properly apologize for dividing the country along racial lines, which has left Trump rally attendees little choice but to do things like sucker-punch black women protesters in the face. Knowing that this is just a ruse by Obama to distract people from his efforts to install ISIS operatives at every Trump rally, Trump’s fans will continue to defend themselves against grisly physical attacks from the left, usually by physically assaulting protesters so as to preempt protester shenanigans.
 
D. Trump’s opponents will capitalize on this golden opportunity to gain ground in the race for the Republican Party nomination by defying astronomical odds and somehow saying things almost as stupid as Trump himself has, thereby executing the political equivalent of booting a 19-yard Super Bowl-winning field goal 50 feet wide to the left in the waning seconds.
 
E. Trump, realizing that acknowledging any personal role in the discord would possibly alienate the hopped-up, drooling zombies who would prefer to see him campaign in a Schutzstaffel uniform, will deftly lead the walking dead astray by raising the proposed height of the never-to-be-built wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to 2,723 feet, one triumphant foot higher then the tip of the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai.

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Yes, Trump’s free-speech rights were violated when his campaign cancelled his rally

…in the same way my right to vote in November will have been violated if I swerve into a brick wall on purpose on my way to the polls and never make it there.

Look, if you really think that Trump was shafted by the happenings in Chicago the other night, please stop reading and eat a footlong strychnine sub and put yourself out of America’s misery right now, and if you know anyone else who thinks like you do, don’t be shy about sharing.

For the rest of you: It’s surreal, isn’t it? Not just the unprecedented sight of rally after presidential-campaign rally being torn apart by increasingly serious eruptions of violence, but also the response to these events by the staggeringly blinkered assholes of the United States. Despite Donald Trump consciously, vociferously, repeatedly and gleefully fomenting this bullshit — which, I hope you’ll agree, is no longer funny even in the macabre way some of Trump’s previous public fuckery was funny — there are people who not only rush to absolve Trump of any and all blame for the very series of ugly confrontations he has invited, but have the unbridled skull-fucking, dick-twisting audacity to blame Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama or both. (Did I forget to add that these craven, ruddy-necked weasels are blaming the protesters as well? I guess I see no need to state the overly obvious.)

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Unconnecting the presidential dots

In a completely unsurprising development, more than a few people are not only refusing to acknowledge Donald Trump’s role in the growing level of chaos at his rallies, but are blaming President Obama for it. This is a typical example (well, typical for a discussion not started by a caustic Trumplodyte; those are far more “colorful”).

The idea that Obama has been divisive by any measure is absurd, especially in the context of his being the first black President in history and therefore creating controversy among a great many rednecks just by getting up in the morning and drawing breath, but is at least debatable among reasonable people, although I have virtually never seen anyone give a solid example of how he’s been intentionally or unique divisive. The closest I have seen him come to perhaps jumping the gun was with the Henry Louis Gates controversy six years ago.

That anyone could say, however, that he is more divisive than Donald Trump — even before yesterday’s messes in Chicago and elsewhere, but especially with those in the mix — requires either willful denial or a complete detachment from reality. It’s as ludicrous as saying that Obama has the most ridiculous comb-over of any President or candidate for President, even worse than Homer Simpson’s. Then again, when someone starts in with the birther and closet-Muslim chatter, as occurred in the Facebook discussion I linked to, he has effectively ceded the right to be taken seriously in any political conversation.

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Right-wing Republicans are leading the women’s health charge

grok-logoDid you know that the political left is aiming to selectively abort as many potential black people as possible, preferably in squalid conditions, and that the chief reason for the recent unprecedented rise in abortion-clinic closings is because the Democrats who run such places refuse to conform to the ultra-high standards of women’s healthcare set by Republicans? I know that sounds weird, since liberals *also* want as many ethnic minorities casting illegal ballots as possible, and also because Republican politicians often say silly things about women and their ladyparts, but it’s true! I read it here.

Watch me get thrashed in the comments section by one of the resident geniuses. Hey, I’m a big boy, I can take a licking from my rhetorical betters and learn from it.

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Scars upon Thars

downloadWhenever I see yet one more article about Baby-Boomers vs. Gen-Xers vs. Millennials, etc., I feel like unliterally revoking someone’s Internet privileges.

First of all, most of these articles are dimly lit blog posts by Millennials, and the rest of us know just how clueless, whiny and annoying those people are.

Second, these are distinctions largely without differences. Yes, it was fair to label anyone conceived during or in the wake of WWII a “baby-boomer.” There was a distinct event that precipitated a rise in American breeding and a fairly distinct time frame in which these people, including my parents, were born. Read the rest of this entry »

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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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