The latest mock-scandal to suck oxygen out of the national media echo chamber is the IRS’ admission that they cast a bit closer scrutiny of some recent “non profit” political groups. Quote:
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service’s special scrutiny of small-government groups applying for tax-exempt status went beyond keyword hunts for organizations with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names, to a more overtly ideological search for applicants seeking to “make America a better place to live” or “criticize how the country is being run,” according to part of a draft audit by the inspector general that has been given to Capitol Hill.
And sure, the IRS targeting any groups based on political affiliation, especially if those groups are opposing the political leanings of the current presidential administration, is a bad thing. Except when it happened many many many times under the previous Republican administrations, it got almost no media attention. Because IOKIYAR.
If nothing else, this demonstrates for the umpteenth time that the right wing is almost infinitely more successful than the left at elevating the media coverage of their chosen scandals. Though they can’t always work their magic, which is why the majority of Americans continue to yawn at even the increasingly rabid mentions of Benghazi.
As so often happens in media scandals though, I’ve read a lot about the IRS vs. the Tea Party issue without hearing anything speak the obvious truth. So here it is.
The Tea Party groups are composed of right wing kooks whose primary motivating purpose is a naive glibertarian belief that government (other than the military and Medicare) is evil and corrupt and unnecessary and that people should do all they can to bring it down, especially by not paying taxes.
Given that evident fact… it’s pretty obvious why the IRS would want to check into their tax-exempt status a bit more closely than the average charity, eh? Except that it’s impossible without it seeming “politically motivated.” Which it might have been — I can’t speak to the motivations of the low-level IRS people in Cincinnati who pushed this agenda — but there is a clear and obvious reason that the IRS might want to give more scrutiny to the efforts of tax resisters to make their money tax-exempt. Ironic that such people are the biggest proponents of racial profiling, except of course when it’s applied to themselves.
Update: Naturally, an hour after I posted this I visited another political blog I read sporadically, and found a post making much the same point.11.14.12
US media is convulsed with coverage of the adultery “scandal” that led to the resignation of CIA chief General Petraeus. There are a lot of issues to dig into, including the US media’s unquestioning and uncritical veneration of the military, the fact that adultery is irrelevant to many jobs… but not this one, and the (not very) curious issue that only a sex scandal can focus media attention on military issues.
I don’t care enough to write about any of that stuff. I didn’t even know Petraeus was now the head of the CIA; I remembered his name from fawning coverage of his authority during the various recent US Middle Eastern adventures, and would have guessed that he was still running some portion of the Army.
Also, I’m sure some could argue that it actually matters who is running the CIA and that different men make different decisions, but I find it unlikely. I just figure they’ll slide in some other ex-military industrial type with an identical, “more secrecy and and more illegal surveillance and covert assassinations and more death-from-above robot drones are always good” policy set.
So why post this? Since this made me laugh.
An ABC affiliate in Denver, Colo., said it was a “mistake” to run an image of Paula Broadwell’s David Petraeus biography that listed the title as “All Up In My Snatch” during a story on the former CIA director’s extramarital affair.
The image appeared during Monday’s evening news broadcast. The book’s actual title, co-written with Washington Post editor Vernon Loeb, is “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.”
“It was a regrettable and an embarrassing error,” KMGH-TV News Director Jeff Harris said in a statement. “We are mortified this appeared during our 5 p.m. news broadcast. The editor pulled the image of the book cover from the Internet without realizing it had been doctored. We sincerely regret the error and have corrected the story to avoid any recurrence of its broadcast. We are following up internally as well to avoid a repeat of this inexcusable oversight.”
The issue I find more interesting is the adultery, and the way modern society continues to pretend to be shocked by it. Look… most people cheat. More than half of marriages end in divorce, and virtually all of those featured adultery, covert or otherwise. And most marriages that don’t end in divorce featured cheating as well, secretly or not, by one or both partners.
Humans are not naturally monogamous. Some animals are; we are not. Humans don’t go into heat or have breeding seasons. We’re almost always capable of sex, and the stew of biological, cultural, egoistic, emotional, and other factors that push people towards each other will never go away. Men cheat because they get horny, get tired of sex with the same woman, feel a drive to conquer new territory, are perpetually drawn to fresh younger females, etc. Women cheat because their husbands ignore them, because they want something fresh and new, because they become emotionally drawn to someone new, etc. Most of the time people have their fling, realize it’s not a better long term project than their current marriage/relationship, and go back. Often with massive guilt and/or violent and painful emotional recriminations.
This has always been the way of humans, and I don’t see any reason to think it will ever change. If anything, I’m surprised that it’s still news that powerful, rich older men stray from their aging wives. Yes, they do. Yes, almost all of them. Are people really that ignorant of history and human nature? I am not ignorant of history, and have read extensively on the lives of the powerful throughout human civilization and before. And virtually every king, sultan, lord, Pope, knight, squire, nobleman, etc, throughout human history, in every culture, in every age, had a mistress, or a lengthy succession of them. (Most of the queens had well-deserved lovers also.) The only thing that really changes is how openly the rich and powerful can indulge their entirely-predictable sexual desires; whether with an official harem or secretly with one of their servants/biographers.
I’m not approving of this, or planning it myself, but I’m not a big fan of denying reality in human nature, at least on a larger societal scale.11.12.12
I never posted anything about the Presidential election, mostly since I didn’t have any original take. I followed it closely, I was glad Obama won, I read a ton of articles and blogs about it afterwards, but nothing really moved me to spend finger fuel discussing it myself. It was satisfying seeing the election returns, but I didn’t feel the rooting interest this time that I felt in 2008, when there was the whole historical weight of electing a black man president. Plus then it wasn’t just Obama winning, it was Sarah Palin losing.
I thought Romney would have been a very bad president on policy matters, (social but also economic with his eagerness to enrich his fellow 1%ers and deregulate/re-empower the Wall Street thieves who triggered the still ongoing Great Recession) but there wasn’t much to root against, if only because you never knew his real opinion on anything, since he lied in his every word. And now we never will.
As someone who thinks actual leftist policies would be a good idea, at least to try out for a while, I had some faint hopes that Obama would march out for his victory speech and just lay the smack down. Take no prisoners, now we’re going to ram through some real liberal policies, F you Wall Street, etc. Of course nothing like that happened, and his speech gave every impression of a willingness to continue being played for a fool by seeking some compromise and bipartisanship with the Tea Party right wing and their scorched earth opposition to everything during his first term.
But of course he had to make the offer right off the bat, and seem magnanimous, interested in healing divisions, etc. Even if, finally, at last, please Dog, he’s ready to actually offer some progressive policies. That’s the wise tactic, to appear ready to be a centrist, etc, and then if (when) the Republicans in the House continue to block everything and show a great eagerness to hurt America so long as they don’t help Obama, he can seem sadly disappointed and move to do what he wanted to do all along.
Except I don’t think he actually wants to do it. As is often pointed out, Obama and pretty much the entire Democratic party would be center-right in almost every other Western nation; it’s only in America, with the modern Republican party moved so insanely far to the right, that a business-friendly centrist like Obama could be called “liberal” much less “socialist” or “communist” without the words being utter gibberish.
That aside, beer. I don’t drink a lot of beer; in quantity or frequency. When I do, I like dark, potent, powerful beers, and when I’m on a date and the food is appropriate, I usually go for whatever stout or porter or draught they’ve got on tap. There are dozens of small local breweries in the Portland area, and microbrews are on every menu, in a wide variety, so I’ve tried a lot of different black-colored beers in the past 18 months. None are great, most are pretty good, though usually pretty predictable; always the coffee and/or dark chocolate flavor, and always with comical names including words like “diablo,” “voodoo,” “diesel,” etc.
So I drink them, but I don’t remember any in particular, since none of them do anything amazing. I seldom have beer at home, especially the last couple of months since austerity has hit home and I’m budgeting tightly. Lots of rice and potatoes going into my belly of late. :(
That said, yesterday I made my first grocery trip in a couple of weeks, and while getting only necessities at CostCo (vegetables in bulk, frozen chicken breasts, soup, kat fud, etc) I happened down the beer aisle, which runs beside the frozen foods, and by hell if they didn’t have Guinness. In the case. They’ve never had Guiness in that store since I moved to Portland, at least not that I’ve seen. Always the major brand American beers (yellow mop water), and always some decent imports, and always a selection of the Pacific Northwest microbrews, but never Guinness.
So I got the case, figuring it’ll last me for months and that it’s only about $1 a beer, and they’re in those larger 14.9oz cans (usually are 12oz), and that I deserve some sort of reward for all the writing and denial I’ve been living in. (Both forms of denial; psychological as well of material luxuries.)
I just poured my first can, the first Guinness I’ve had in many months, with a small bowl of pretzels (what I’d have given for some good honey mustard for dip), and after viewing that amazing bubble downdraft for a moment, I took a sip.
Honestly, why do other companies still make beer?09.29.12
Not sure I even remember how to post here, (took me several tries to get the password right) but I’m just reading the fascinating cover article in the new issue of The Atlantic and while it’s full of great quotable stuff, this one seemed to well encapsulate the article.
The piece is about the way that Obama has transcended race; a black man becoming president of a still deeply racist and white-privilege-committed America, and yet how he is at the same time handcuffed by never being able to actually be “black,” about anything of consequence. Especially not about racial matters. He’s a black man who is president, but he can never be a “black president” since white racial fears and guilt and resentment won’t accept a black man with power over them.
In 2008, as Obama’s election became imaginable, it seemed possible that our country had indeed, at long last, come to love us. We did not need our Jeremiah Wrights, our Jesse Jacksons, our products of the polarized ’60s getting in the way. Indeed, after distancing himself from Wright, Obama lost almost no black support.
Obama offered black America a convenient narrative that could be meshed with the larger American story. It was a narrative premised on Crispus Attucks, not the black slaves who escaped plantations and fought for the British; on the 54th Massachusetts, not Nat Turner; on stoic and saintly Rosa Parks, not young and pregnant Claudette Colvin; on a Christlike Martin Luther King Jr., not an avenging Malcolm X. Jeremiah Wright’s presence threatened to rupture that comfortable narrative by symbolizing that which makes integration impossible—black rage.
From the “inadequate black male” diatribe of the Hillary Clinton supporter Harriet Christian in 2008, to Rick Santelli’s 2009 rant on CNBC against subsidizing “losers’ mortgages,” to Representative Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst during Obama’s September 2009 address to Congress, to John Boehner’s screaming “Hell no!” on the House floor about Obamacare in 2010, politicized rage has marked the opposition to Obama. But the rules of our racial politics require that Obama never respond in like fashion. So frightening is the prospect of black rage given voice and power that when Obama was a freshman senator, he was asked, on national television, to denounce the rage of Harry Belafonte. This fear continued with demands that he keep his distance from Louis Farrakhan and culminated with Reverend Wright and a presidency that must never betray any sign of rage toward its white opposition.
Thus the myth of “twice as good” that makes Barack Obama possible also smothers him. It holds that African Americans—enslaved, tortured, raped, discriminated against, and subjected to the most lethal homegrown terrorist movement in American history—feel no anger toward their tormentors. Of course, very little in our history argues that those who seek to tell bold truths about race will be rewarded. But it was Obama himself, as a presidential candidate in 2008, who called for such truths to be spoken. “Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now,” he said in his “More Perfect Union” speech, which he delivered after a furor erupted over Reverend Wright’s “God Damn America” remarks. And yet, since taking office, Obama has virtually ignored race.
I’m not sure the parallel really holds up as any sort of analysis, but the way racial attacks come at Obama when he’s been almost unbelievably non-racial reminds me of the way his few very mildly liberal policies are attacked as communism.
The racial issue best cited in the article is about the murder of Treyvon Martin, which Obama responded to very mildly, and long after it had become a national outrage. Obama is quoted in the piece, but basically he said it was a terrible tragedy and that it needed to be investigated fully, and that like all parents in America he couldn’t help but imagine if the murdered boy had been his own son, since Martin would have looked a lot like such a hypothetical son.
And this ignited all the race-baiting commenters like Limbaugh and Beck and all the rest of their Fox News ilk. “Obama only cares about a murder victim if he’s black,” etc. And this after Obama’s comments were about as mundane as possible. Imagine if he’d said, “We sick a you crackers gunning down innocent, unarmed black men! I’m'a roll out legistlation to impound all firearms owned by white men in the United States, since y’all can’t be trusted with ‘em!”
Obviously there’s no way in a billion years he’d have said that, but it’s almost as if he did, given the way the Becks and Limbaughs reacted. Thus my analogy to all the incoherent cries of “communism!” Aimed at the president who bailed out the banks and added the weakest, most frayed and ineffective strings in the form of some very mild new regulations to maybe make it a little bit harder for the banksters to recklessly gamble trillions of other people’s dollars on whatever new casino-like financial instrument they could dream up.
Which reminds me of a nice pull quote from a recent Matt Taibbi piece. Which I might as well insert here, while I’m actually updating a blog post that no one will read.
The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and tried just a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned all of us to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.
Think about it. Four years ago, we had an economic crash that wiped out somewhere between a quarter to 40% of the world’s wealth, depending on whom you believe. The crash was caused by an utterly disgusting and irresponsible class of Wall Street paper-pushers who loaded the world up with deadly leverage in pursuit of their own bonuses, then ran screaming to the government for a handout (and got it) the instant it all went south.
These people represent everything that ordinarily repels the American voter. They mostly come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them have ever worked with their hands, or done anything like hard work. They not only don’t oppose the offshoring of American manufacturing jobs, they enthusiastically support it, financing the construction of new factories in places like China and India.
They’ve relentlessly lobbied the government to give themselves tax holidays and shelters, and have succeeded at turning the graduated income tax idea on its head by getting the IRS to accept a sprawling buffet of absurd semantic precepts, like the notions that “capital gains” and “carried interest” are somehow not the same as “income.”
For all this, when it came time to nominate a candidate for the presidency four years after the crash, the Republicans chose a man who in almost every respect perfectly represents this class of people. Mitt Romney is a rich-from-birth Ivy League product who not only has never done a hard day of work in his life – he never even saw a bad neighborhood in America until 1996, when he was 49 years old, when he went into some seedy sections of New York in search of a colleague’s missing daughter (“It was a shocker,” Mitt said. “The number of lost souls was astounding”).
He has a $250 million fortune, but he appears to pay well under half the maximum tax rate, thanks to those absurd semantic distinctions that even Ronald Reagan dismissed as meaningless and counterproductive. He has used offshore tax havens for himself and his wife, and his company, Bain Capital, has both eliminated jobs in the name of efficiency (often using these cuts to pay for payments to his own company) and moved American jobs overseas.
The point is, Mitt Romney’s natural constituency should be about 1% of the population. If you restrict that pool to “likely voters,” he might naturally appeal to 2%. Maybe 3%.
Yes, a lot of good things out there to read. Pity I’m not writing any of them anymore, other than on Diablo 3 stuff. And fiction. But none online. Alas.05.2.12
Amusing couple of quotes from prominent Republican politicians today, regarding Obama’s inaugural celebrations of the elimination of Osama bin Laden. As the article points out, Obama is scoring points by quoting Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s comments from 2007 and 2008, in which he basically said it wasn’t worth the trouble going after bin Laden.
In a sane world with an intelligent, mature media, the obvious conversation would be to discuss what Mitt said back then, what he meant, what actions he would have taken, what actions Obama did take, their benefits and drawbacks, etc. And sure, what Mitt said back then is the same as whatever he’s saying now; purely designed as a political statement, as he’s been in a perpetual campaign for the Presidency since about 2006.
That aside, the real discussion should be about the foreign policy and its effects. Naturally, nothing like that exists in the national media discourse, and the conversation instantly turns to who is winning the media coverage, who seems more “presidential,” etc. All that junior high clique popularity bullshit that animates most political coverage in the US.
The reason this issue is really getting under the skin of the Republicans is that they’ve tried to own the “we’re tough guys who like to start wars and shit” voting block for decades. Certainly that was Dubya’s entire appeal to his base, and it was wildly successful from 2001 through about 2006, when people started to get sick of the perpetual occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Domestic discontent with those wars was the prime driving force behind Dubya’s record low approval ratings when he left office, and part of the reason that no one seriously considered the usual act, of running Dubya’s VP for president after him.
George Bush the first won election in 1988 coming right after two terms as Reagan’s VP, Al Gore won the popular election in 2000 after serving two terms as Clinton’s VP, but no one for a second considered Dick Cheney as a viable Republican candidate in 2008, in part because he’s had a lot of heart problems (pun not intended), but chiefly because he was quite clearly a total asshole, a former draft dodger turned bellicose war profiteer, and his microscopic approval rating stemmed from the popular conception of him as the evil and secretive mastermind behind most of Dubya’s unpopular policies.
Perhaps proving that it’s possible to go too far with the, “invade any country any time for any reason” tough guy sloganeering.
Obama hasn’t banged that hammer, and a lot of his initial support came from his record as opposing the most recent Iraqi war, but he has been making hay from his foreign policy successes, chief amongst them ordering the liquidation of Osama bin Laden. While it’s had to say that anything in particular is the most vexing thing the president does, when considered from the fully Obama Derangement Syndrome wing of the right wing, his having been in charge of the Osama bin Laden death squad has to be near the top. After all, one of the main lines of (utterly unrelated to reality) partisan criticism of Obama is that he (they say this about all Democratic party leaders) is “soft” on terror, prone to “apologizing” for America, subservient, deferential, and just generally a goddamned wimp.
Bill Clinton drove Republicans insane since he was big, southern, unashamed, and such a womanizer that no possible charges of “wimpy” could be made to stick. Al Gore and John Kerry were much more to the liking of Republicans, as they could be tarred with that brush. As always in politics, it matter not at all that both men had served bravely in Vietnam, while their Republican opponents had draft dodged while cheerleading the deaths of their braver, less-political-connected peers. All that mattered was the public perception, which the lazy media is always happy to parrot.
Which brings us to Obama and Mittens, and the fact that Mittens and his party comrades have spent the last 4 years desperately slandering Obama with every possible insult, with a special focus on portraying him as an outsider, a traitor, a socialist, not a true American, etc. Which is why Obama authorizing the end of bin Laden, and celebrating that a year later, makes his opponents even crazier than usual.
Which brings me back to the news article I mentioned at the start, and which contained this delightfully LOLable quote:
Romney and Republican officials have condemned Obama’s campaign for campaigning on bin Laden’s death. A Romney spokesman called it an effort to “divide” Americans; McCain said doing so “politicizes” national security.
This is simply farcical on multiple levels. Anyone remember how George Bush, and every other Republican campaigned from about 2001-2007? Mission Accomplished banners in 2003, non-stop military might, wars and more wars, protecting the borders, getting the terrorists, etc. Remember when we had those security theater bullshit “threat level orange” warnings we used to get about every 2 months, always conveniently occurring when there was some bad economic or political news for Bush? Remember how John McCain’s entire campaign was about his Vietnam service and eagerness to start new Middle Eastern wars? How every Republican candidate this time around has talked eagerly about nuking North Korea, invading Iran, etc? Can you even imagine the sort of hype Republicans would have served up had the US special forces managed to get bin Laden while Dubya was president? Or the condemnation they’d be heaping upon the president if his Osama bin Laden mission had gone poorly?
So yes, Obama is attempting to politicize his most politically-valuable foreign policy accomplishment, but it’s beyond farcical for a Republican, any Republican, to act like that’s inappropriate. The only thing they don’t like about it is it’s being done by a Democrat.
That said, I thought the start of the second sentence from the quote was the funniest part. Where a Romney spokesman said it was an effort to “divide” Americans. God, does Obama have some nerve? It’s almost as if he’s in a political campaign, where the goal is to get more Americans to vote for him than for Romney. How dare he say something that portrays himself in a favorable light, while making his opponent look bad!
To the right you see the standard podium at Mittens’ political speeches. Good thing he’s not saying anything bad about his opponent, since he wouldn’t want to be divisive.
Lest my sarcasm fails anyone… of course Obama’s remarks are dividing! As are Mittens’. That’s the whole fucking point of making a political argument! To convince people that you’re right and the other guy is wrong.
Very rarely, very occasionally, a politician can succeed with hope and aspiration and uniting people for a greater goal — to a large extent that’s the miracle Obama pulled off in 2008. But the vast majority of political campaigns are based on presenting your positions in contrast to those of your opponent, and quite often by directly denigrating the record or accomplishments of your opponent. You know, by doing things like printing, “Obama Isn’t Working” on your podium and devoting the vast majority of your every stump speech to criticizing (almost always with lies) your opponent’s record.
I’m not saying any of that shouldn’t be allowed; that’s what campaigning is all about. But it’s farcical and insulting for political operatives to act like that’s not what they’re doing, or to whine that the other side shouldn’t be allowed to tout their successes.
Update: Conveniently, the day after I wrote this, a segment on the John Stewart show made the exact same argument, with video footage for documentation. I’m sure others have as well; as the Republican whining about this is so transparently absurd and insulting to anyone with half a conscious brain in their head. (Sadly, that rules out 85% of the American voting public, which means it may yet be a successful tactic.)
One of the more entertaining political bloggers around is Roy Edroso, who writes at Alicublog. His main thing is to read some of the craziest of the ring wing blogs and quote their words, while adding corrections, outrage, or astonishment. Mostly ridicule though, stemming from the ancient proposition (often taken up by modern atheists) that it’s the best way to counter truly idiotic ideas.
In addition to his own blog, Edroso contributes a weekly column to the Village Voice, which is a longer form adaptation of his blog style. In it he generally picks the outrage of the week, scans dozens of right wing blogs and editorials about it, and then weaves them into an article with numerous quotes and a deft humorous touch. Reading a new installment is always one of the highlights of my Monday morning (by which I mean late, late Sunday night).
This week’s focused on the latest outrageously sexist/racist/homophobic/etc comment from Rush Limbaugh, in which he slobberingly attacked a young female college student as a “slut” for daring to testify before congress about the shortcomings of her university’s student health insurance. The woman is a law student at Georgetown University, which has a founding connection and is partial subsidized by a Catholic organization, and therefore the student health insurance does not cover birth control pills. This was news because a new extension of “Obamacare” requires employers (and apparently universities?) to offer full health coverage to their employees, and not just treatment for the diseases or conditions they consider acceptable.
I’m not going to get into that issue at this point; I’m just bringing it up since it’s the background of why the law student was testifying in the first place.
Like most “conservatives,” Rush is opposed to every part of Obamacare for a variety of principled reasons. 1) Obama is a Democrat. 2) Obamacare would help poor people. 3) Obamacare would improve the public health. 4) Obamacare would lower health care costs in the US. 5) Obamacare prioritizes basic health care for women and children and prevention of disease, rather than financing hugely expensive treatments mostly of benefit to aging white males. 6) Etc.
That this new wrinkle of Obamacare would force religious institutions to stop depriving their employees and students of health care on religious grounds is just another flag against it, for such people. That part is a bit ironic, since I can’t believe that Rush has any sincere religious belief. He’s far too venal, vile, and selfish to adhere in even the slightest to any philosophy more advanced than Objectivism. And sure, he’s playing the televangelist/carnival barker to some extent, just like other right wing media types like Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck — where they make their livings rabble rousing and moralizing, before retiring to penthouse suites full of whores, drugs, and every sort of indulgence they regularly fulminate against.
In Rush’s case that’s not just a metaphor, as he’s a convicted felon and drug abuser, and one of his more humorous arrests came when he was detained at customs while returning, alone, from a short visit to some third world tropical island paradise with a suitcase full of Viagra and condoms. The Viagra was contraband as it was a prescription medication… someone else’s prescription medication.
Anyway, I’ll briefly quote Edroso’s summary of Rush’s remarks, on the moral depravity of a young female law student who wanted her health insurance to cover birth control pills, a prescription medication something like 99% of all adult women in the US have used, at one time or another.
Among Limbaugh’s bon mots on Fluke: “She’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills,” “Essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute,” “If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. And I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”
That last was almost funny, as you can be sure that since his “detained by customs” adventure, Rush is obtaining the Viagra he requires for his prostitution field trips via his own prescription, and that it’s no doubt subsidized by his health insurance. But since no one on Earth would request a Rush Limbaugh porn video, he surely felt safe in making his rather wacky request.
The other funny thing is something I saw in other right blogger quotes about the matter. To again quote from Edroso’s column:
“Let’s face it, I’m sure most people, including Liberals/progressives, though ‘my goodness, how much sex does she have a day? Does she ever study?’” fantasized William Teach.
I assumed that knowledge of the function of the human female reproductive system, in conjunction with the birth control pill was fairly universal, but perhaps not? I’m not going to explain it all here, but no, the number of pills a woman must take has absolutely nothing to do with how often she has sex. There’s a pill a day for 3 weeks, plus 7 sugar pills for the “time of the month.” Those 7 don’t need to be taken; they’re just included for women who want to stay in the habit of taking a pill every day, so they won’t forget.
At any rate, birth control pills are not like condoms; you don’t use one every time you fuck. A woman can have sex with fifty guys or zero guys, and lots of women stay on the pill for a variety of health reasons that have nothing to do with avoiding pregnancy. It’s very useful to establish much more regular, less painful and bloody periods, in my first hand observations. (And that is of as much or more benefit to the man dating the woman as to the woman having the period.)
That said, it’s understandable that someone like Rush Limbaugh would be confused on this issue, as his sex life has undoubtedly been largely conducted on a, shall we say… transactional basis? So naturally he associates sex with the question of, “how much does it cost each time?” I’m just surprised that so many other right bloggers don’t seem to know any better than that. Or assume (perhaps correctly) that their readers don’t.
Incidentally, right up there with the absurdity of allowing elderly male virgins to speak as experts about women’s health issues, is the fact that some heterosexual men oppose wider use of birth control pills. You guys realize that lesbians don’t really need them, right? They might take them, for various health reasons, but you can be pretty sure that a woman on the pill is sexually active, or at least willing to be… with a man! And speaking as a currently single man, I consider that a very good thing. What single man (or even non-single man with a straying eye) doesn’t?
Furthermore… have these guys ever had sex? With a woman, I mean. Not to brag, but I have, on a number of occasions with a variety of volunteers. And let me tell you… having experimented with a wide variety of prophylactics, the pill is far and away the best, from the male perspective. Condoms can be fun for variety once in a while, and I’m sure men who can’t last find them useful for their sensation-deadening effect, but barebacking feels soooooooo much better.
It’s not just better like “more intense” better, but better in so many other ways. Closer, smoother, you can rub and touch and play without worrying about anything falling off, you don’t have to pause between foreplay and intercourse to roll it on, you’re not worried about anything breaking, you don’t have to decide in advance how and where you’re going to “finish,” etc, and most importantly, the sensation of intercourse is vastly improved. It still feels good with a condom on, of course, but then it’s just a sort of squeezing sensation. Even with an extra thin condom, you don’t get to bathe in the delightful smoothness and temperature and texture, and you can’t feel the moisture at all.
Honestly, any heterosexual man who is not all in favor of distributing birth control pills as widely as possible either doesn’t know what he’s missing, or is probably never going to find out. In either case, keep your psychoses and religious absurdities hidden in the closet, where they belong, and stop trying to butt into the public discourse on medical issues that are really none of your business.03.3.12
Political shock jock “journalist” Andrew Breitbart dropped dead this week. Literally, he was allegedly out for a walk, at midnight, hear his home in LA, when he keeled over. He was “only” 43 and not suffering from any known health problems, so they’re saying “natural causes.” While some of his crazy wingnut fans are (predictably) making allegations of murder by political enemies, I’ll be shocked if it’s not drug-related. (No one walks in LA, and certainly not in the suburbs at midnight. The cover story sounds about as believable as the whole “Tiger Woods decided to go for a drive at 3am while nodding off from sleeping pills and after he crashed his wife helped him out of the SUV by breaking the back window with a 9 iron.” incident.)
Bretbart was unhinged and manic, and probably not in an all-natural way. I’d like to think that anyone who acted as bizarrely as he did in his vein-popping media appearances, giving off the same polite tactfulness as roid-raging pro wrestler, had to be fueling that with intoxicants of some type. Probably cocaine, plus some mental illness-based prescription drug cocktail of dubious legality. If/when the autopsy reveals that, it would actually raise my opinion of him, in an odd sort of way. Like finding out that Charles Whitman had a brain tumor pressing on his rage gland. I’d like to think that something more than greed, hunger for celebrity, and megalomania were spurring Breitbart’s behavior. (Though given the things people do on reality shows for 1/50th the fame and fortune, I’m probably deluding myself with these exculpatory excuses.)
I’ve seen a lot of eulogies of the man, and while those from the right are hagiographies, writers from the left and center have a lot more mixed feeling and output. After all, Breitbart made his career with profanity, lies, deceptions, distortions, and vitriolic and entirely-partisan attacks, and he never hesitated to slander or defame anyone of a differing political opinion. Notably and relevantly, he fired off numerous hate-filled tweets the moment Ted Kennedy died. That’s the sort of “id unleashed” behavior that endeared him to so many on the right, but it’s a conundrum for non-right wing writers, as however they felt about the man personally, they couldn’t help but deplore the propagandistic dishonesty of his yellow journalism. That said, many of them are sincerely reluctant to speak ill of the dead, and/or they don’t to sink to the slime-crawling level Brietbart traveled at during his life.
One journalist who was less restrained was the the generally-entertaining Matt Taibbi. His piece is here, and I read it yesterday with mild interest. Taibbi offered a nuanced send off, by stating his own disagreements, personal and professional, with Brietbart, and yet praising the guy for his accomplishments, such as they were. Quote:
So Andrew Breitbart is dead. Here’s what I have to say to that, and I’m sure Breitbart himself would have respected this reaction: Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.
I say this in the nicest possible way. I actually kind of liked Andrew Breitbart. Not in the sense that I would ever have wanted to hang out with him, or even be caught within a hundred yards of him without a Haz-Mat suit on, but I respected the shamelessness. Breitbart didn’t do anything by halves, and even his most ardent detractors had to admit that he had a highly developed, if not always funny, sense of humor.
…But he also had enough of a sense of humor to appreciate why someone like me shouldn’t bother to pretend I’m sad he’s dead. He wouldn’t, in my place. So to use one of his favorite words: Good riddance, cocksucker.* Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
* See the following Breitbart quote: “I like to call someone a raving cunt every now and then, when it’s appropriate, for effect… ‘You cocksucker.’ I love that kind of language.”
Taibbi wrote his post a few days ago, and apparently received raving hatred from Brietbart’s fans, as he’s posted a follow up talking about it. Perhaps some of Brietbart’s fans were simply honoring their fallen hero by doing the sort of thing upon which he built his fame; using profanity and racial slurs, acting outraged by taking quotes out of context, issuing death threats, etc. But I suspect the majority were a lot less ironic and considered in their replies.
I have seen (elsewhere) some comments that it’s wrong to speak ill of Brietbart now that he’s dead, as he left four children and a wife behind. Apparently he was a decent father, or so some are saying… (I wouldn’t doubt it; I assume he’s another Glenn Beck-esque, televangelist-style carnival barker, who knows his whole public personna is just a lie and an act to fleece the rubes.) but so what? Brietbart never showed anyone else that sort of decency in his professional life, and besides; no one needs to lie and twist facts around to comment negatively on him. Taibbi did a good job of that by simply recounting Brietbart’s greatest hits.
I don’t think we need to go the full Hitchens every time someone of a different political persuasion passes away, but if it’s someone like Breitbart, who made their career out of vicious insults and lies about anyone with a different political persuasion, it’s not out of bounds to call them on their behavior as you sum up their career. You’d be profoundly dishonest and irrelevant if you didn’t.
Incidentally, when are you supposed to offer an honest counterpoint to the praise heaped on a dead man? A week later? A month? A year? By then no one is listening and no one cares. So whenever a controversial person dies their defenders get a free pass to spin and eulogize and whitewash their record without any opposition? Bullshit. In this modern era of instant news, the debate happens when the iron is hot (and the body is still cooling). If people don’t get their two bits in immediately, they might as well not speak at all.
If you don’t want people to write about what a shit you were once you die, don’t spend your career providing them with ammunition.10.6.09
In recent months, I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about the current, scorched-earth, fact-free state of political “discourse” in the US. I’ve not often blogged about it because um… words are hard. Well, more accurately words are hard when I want to semi-concisely sum up a vast and sprawling issue; a task that would require a great deal of “and this other guy said” type commentary, since I’m highly unlikely to find/make the time to dig up links for everything.
Too much real life work and writing, weekends spent primarily engaged in recreation with my new girlfriend Elle, etc. This past weekend was more of the same, with Elle overnight at my place on Friday night, much romping on Saturday, before we attended a wedding of a friend of hers from grad school on Saturday. I stayed over there that night, and we crashed fairly early since we hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. I left her place earlier than usual Sunday afternoon (usually it’s dark by the time I depart after an overnight), but the problem with the Bay Area on a nice weekend is hella traffic getting into/out of The City. Thus was my return trip twice as long and ten times as frustrating, and by the time I got home the neck ache I’d awakened with was much worse, and I was feeling weird chills and sudden patches of goosebumps all over my body. I took a hot bath, had a bowl of chicken soup and some fruit, and drank some OJ, but by 10pm I was definitely on a downward spiral. Not that I’d have blogged something then anyway, but I had hoped to spend a few hours on fiction.
I crashed by 10:30, shivering and unable to get warm even with heavy clothing on and wrapped tightly in warm covers. I woke up at 2, predictably soaked in sweat, partially thanks to Jinx’s fully-extended, log-like presence between my thighs/knees/ankles. Extracting myself and crawling out of bed was a torturous exercise, made somewhat easier by the fact that I was back to sleep 10 seconds after I threw down my sweaty clothing and returned to bed.
The rest of the night, morning, and afternoon went pretty much like that. I’d wake up every couple of hours, sweaty and under Jinx, take a long drink of water from the bedside bottle, move over a few feet and flip over the pillow in search of a dry spot, and fall instantly back to sleep. This charade continued well into the day, and it wasn’t until near 1pm that I felt capable of rising and functioning. I’ve felt fairly okay all day, though still obviously not well. Periodic chills and painfully sore muscles (neck and back mostly), a condition which several hot showers and a delicate, yoga-intensive evening gym visit did something to ameliorate.
And now I’m quite eager to get back to bed (despite sleeping 13+ hours last night) making a (presumably) quick blog post just to throw in a couple of links to recent, trenchant, political articles that have been squatting in browser tabs for the last several days. Worse yet, I’ve got a long-awaited 1-on-1, 30-minute phone interview with the lead designer of Diablo 3 tomorrow morning, and I really need to spend at least a couple of hours further paring down, honing, and prioritizing my overlong list of questions.
Incidentally, they say it takes misery and despair to spur good writing, and while that’s overrated (since misery and despair much more often spur lethargy), but any reader of this blog would be excused for agreeing with that concept, based on my recent performance. I wasn’t posting a great deal over the past year+, but at least back when I was girlfriend-less and vexed by the cock-teasing and mixed-messages I chose to ignore/overlook/misinterpret from the IG, I semi-regularly wrote something amusingly-anguished and self-absorbed about my psychological state. Now that I’m in a happy and stable relationship with code name Elle, I’m not writing much about it, and I’m busy every damn weekend which leaves me no time to blog anyway.
May your audience’s online reading happiness exist at a directly inverse proportion to the contentedness in your own personal life.
That digressed, here’s the political news posts I thought worth sharing.
This first one sums quite well, I think, the scorched earth approach of the modern Republican party to virtually every political issue. When there is massive celebration of America failing to score an Olympics hosting gig, the sort of behavior that would have prompted enough “Anti-American!” cries from those self-same celebrators if done by leftists under a Republican administration, we have entered some sort of bizarro political world.
Politics as Religion in America
Perhaps the single most profound change in our political culture over the last 30 years has been the transformation of conservatism from a political movement, with all the limitations, hedges and forbearances of politics, into a kind of fundamentalist religious movement, with the absolute certainty of religious belief.
I don’t mean “religious belief” literally. This transformation is less a function of the alliance between Protestant evangelicals, their fellow travelers and the right (though that alliance has had its effect) than it is a function of a belief in one’s own rightness so unshakable that it is not subject to political caveats. In short, what we have in America today is a political fundamentalism, with all the characteristics of religious fundamentalism and very few of the characteristics of politics.
For centuries, American democracy as a process of conflict resolution has been based on give-and-take; negotiation; compromise; the acceptance of the fact that the majority rules, with respect for minority rights; and, above all, on an agreement to abide by the results of a majority vote. It takes compromise, even defeat, in stride because it is a fluid system. As historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once put it, the beauty of a democracy is that the minority always has the possibility of becoming the majority.
Religious fundamentalism, on the other hand, rests on immutable truths that cannot be negotiated, compromised or changed. In this, it is diametrically opposed to liberal democracy as we have practiced it in America. Democrats of every political stripe may defend democracy to the death, but very few would defend individual policies to the death. You don’t wage bloody crusades for banking regulation or the minimum wage or even healthcare reform. When politics becomes religion, however, policy too becomes a matter of life and death, as we have all seen.
I also thought Krugman’s new editorial hit the nail on the head, as he took the fairly amazing, “they even hate the Olympics?” issue and segued it into a discussion of the Republican opposition to Obama’s health care reform efforts.
The Politics of SpiteTo be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences — in particular, in the debate over health care reform.
Now, it’s understandable that many Republicans oppose Democratic plans to extend insurance coverage — just as most Democrats opposed President Bush’s attempt to convert Social Security into a sort of giant 401(k). The two parties do, after all, have different philosophies about the appropriate role of government.
But the tactics of the two parties have been different. In 2005, when Democrats campaigned against Social Security privatization, their arguments were consistent with their underlying ideology: they argued that replacing guaranteed benefits with private accounts would expose retirees to too much risk.
The Republican campaign against health care reform, by contrast, has shown no such consistency. For the main G.O.P. line of attack is the claim — based mainly on lies about death panels and so on — that reform will undermine Medicare. And this line of attack is utterly at odds both with the party’s traditions and with what conservatives claim to believe.
Think about just how bizarre it is for Republicans to position themselves as the defenders of unrestricted Medicare spending. First of all, the modern G.O.P. considers itself the party of Ronald Reagan — and Reagan was a fierce opponent of Medicare’s creation, warning that it would destroy American freedom. (Honest.) In the 1990s, Newt Gingrich tried to force drastic cuts in Medicare financing. And in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly decried the growth in entitlement spending — growth that is largely driven by rising health care costs.
But the Obama administration’s plan to expand coverage relies in part on savings from Medicare. And since the G.O.P. opposes anything that might be good for Mr. Obama, it has become the passionate defender of ineffective medical procedures and overpayments to insurance companies.
I’d add discussion, but um… 24-hour semi-flu. More later, mortality permitting.07.22.09
Vanity Fair has posted a marked up version of Sarah Palin’s legendary resignation speech, and it’s both depressing and amusing. They did the whole speech (earning bonus hazard pay, one would hope), with blue ink for formatting errors, green for factual/research problems, and red for grammatical corrections. Needless to say, there’s more red than black, in most of the paragraphs. Here’s the start; click through to see the whole thing.
That her rambling, speech-like oration would have gotten her booed off the podium in any high school speech class is indisputable. Fortunately for Palin, her and her husband’s inability to write a speech isn’t really a problem, since she’s so defiantly campaigning for the support of the ignorant rabble. Not being able to talk so purty is actually a boon when aiming for the hard right fringe of the Republican party, since it’s sort of a “folks like us” credential.
If she’d delivered the address the Vanity Fair editors transformed hers into, much less one of Obama’s intellectually-appealing orations, it would have been a far by any objective, public speaking criteria… but less effective and resonating with the audience it was intended for. They might have appreciated more the words, but there’s a whole luggage train of cultural baggage pulled by Palin’s “Aw shucks-isms,” that wouldn’t be so easily hitched to a slick, professional speech-maker.
Among the many benefits of Palin throwing a fit at halftime, quitting the team, and walking out of the arena to try and get a job with a better team (to co-op her chosen basketball point guard metaphor), is the fact that she’ll now be making regular appearances on unscripted talk shows, thus greatly increasing the frequency with which she’ll bestow upon the American public the unique blend of non sequiturs, malapropisms, and disconnected talking points that make up her spoken dialogue.07.4.09
Okay, I know I had a little too much vodka with my Friday night Pepsi (and nachos), but does this make any sense?
Pretend you have no idea who this woman is, or what she’s talking about. What would you think after listening to the full 7 minutes? After 1 minute? I assume there must have been some sort of preamble that’s not included on this video, something where she like, introduced herself? And made some sort of statement about what she was doing there?
I first watched this by clicking the link, and then goign to another tab to play a game or look at bikini photos, or find links to download anime. I don’t remember exactly, and little bit too much vodka I’d splashed into my Friday night Pepsi (with nachos!) might have something to do with that. But after a few minutes I had to click back to the speech, since the editing was driving me crazy. The way they were cutting it up so much made it sound like she was jumping randomly between subjects and was turning the whole thing into an incoherent word salad of gibberish talking points.
And then after I watched it for a minute I realized it wasn’t edited at all. That was her speech, unedited. I had to watch the whole thing for a second time to be sure, and I did so with my mouth literally hanging open. Was this written? Did she, or anyone else who worked on it, think it made any sense? Or had any consistency?
The only thing I can think is that she knew the national media that so over-covers the trainwreck that is her life would chop it up into 10 second soundbites. So she figured there was no point in talking about the same thing for more than 10 seconds, and no point in making consecutive sentences relate to each other. And she’s probably right, but for anyone who listens to the whole seven minutes at once, it’s utterly incoherent.
Listening to this, all of those amazingly bad interviews and talk show segments she gave last fall make much more sense. She’s probably not an idiot, and she’s obviously got some Machiavellian political skills that have taken her near the top. But her mind has some kind of ADD that makes her unable to be patient or logical or hold a train of thought for more than a sentence or two. It might be some kind of verbal autism; like in her head she knows what she wants to say, but when she talks her thoughts jump way ahead of her mouth, and she only says a fraction of what she knows or is thinking about an issue, before jumping to the next point. That could tie into her legendary inability to learn policy details or study complicated subjects, and maybe it’s why she can’t answer a question with anything but talking points?
Psychological theorizing aside, it’s a fascinating display. If you give up on it, skip ahead to the last 10 seconds. At that point she wraps up, or just stops talking, and the camera swings around to show… like 10 random white people just standing around on someone’s lawn, watching her talk. That’s the entire audience. No other media, no state officials, just random white people in vacation-type clothing, who may or may not have any idea who this woman in the red jacket with shoulder pads is. And what’s with the seaplane parked in a pond behind her? A truly bizarre setting for a speech; it makes all the “Northern Exposure reflected reality” comments you’ve ever heard about Alaska seem more believable.
In related news, you might want to check out the new Vanity Fair article about her. I found it overlong and lacking in content, but it does give some level of insight into the woman’s inner workings and political history. And there’s some interesting info about just how weird and other Alaska is and Alaskans are.