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October 30, 2010

The Rally For Ironically Detached Hipsters

Never underestimate the draw of free entertainment and the opportunity to luxuriate in how very superior you are to those with whom you disagree.

Hipster LIne And so I found myself packed into a subway car with semi-urban hipster wannabes on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Washington DC.

The things I don’t do for you people.

Rally For Ironically Detached Hipsters Organized by Comedy Central performers Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and officially called the "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear," it was, according to Stewart himself, a:

“Call-to-reasonableness.”

And a:

"Million moderate march"

Jon Stewart is a natural for such a sentiment, having earned a reputation for evenhandedness skewering those on both sides of the political spectrum. Whether it's calling out conservatives for leaning too far to the right or scolding liberals for also leaning too far to the right, Stewart trains his rapier wit in a purely moderate, middle-of-the-road, manner.

How could you tell this was a gathering of reasonable, practical-thinking folks?  It was obvious as soon as I got off the Metro at L’Enfant Plaza where I saw, in order, vendors selling:

“I make Glen Beck cry” T-shirts.

The “Socialist Worker” newspaper.

“No tea party” T-shirts.

A woman in front of me asked how much the Socialist Worker newspaper cost and he said they asked for $1 donations. As she turned away, he said fifty cents.  As she continued to walk away he countered with “free.” 

Socialist Worker Paper She took one.

Which tells you all you need to know about socialism.  I ended up giving the guy a buck for a copy.

Hey, he may not believe in capitalism, but I do.

Bush T-Shirts Other vendors I saw included a woman selling “no blood for oil” buttons and some guys doing a brisk business in anti-Bush T-shirts playing on the crowd's presumable antipathy for the former president’s timidity towards plunging us ever deeper into debt

But it’s not fair to hold the organizers responsible for the vendors regardless of whether or not they saw a good business opportunity.  Stewart and Colbert demonstrated their commitment to restoring sanity by showcasing the talented Cat Stevens, (otherwise known as “Yusef Islam”) who very sanely has in the past supported a fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

In fact, the rally spent a surprising amount of time pointing out to those gathered how very important it was we be reasonable regarding people of different beliefs, and by “people of different beliefs,” they mean “people who believe in Islam.”

For example, Stewart awarded a "Medal of Reasonableness" to Jacob Isom who swiped a kerosene-soaked Quran from would-be burners, telling them, "Dude, you have no Quran."

After all, there is no better way to demonstrate your passion for the rights of others than to forcibly deny them. As Stewart and Colbert had said, “real patriots can handle a difference of opinion.”

As long as that opinion receives their prior approval.

To suggest otherwise would be, well, insane.

As much as I was enjoying being surround by people who define sanity as further expanding the size and scope of government, I had a neighborhood Halloween parade to attend with my wife and one-year old son.  Why?  Because that’s how important it is to me to be a good husband and father.

Kiddie Halloween Parade

Also, there was free beer.

Free Beer!

J.

October 30, 2010 at 09:25 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 29, 2010

Never Bring A Cell Phone To A Gun Fight

Republican congressional candidate Keith Fimian found himself in hot water yesterday after he was caught saying something so extreme, so beyond-the-pale, as to possibly disqualify him from public office.

He suggested while discussing the Virginia Tech massacre (and you’re going to laugh when you hear this) that when you’re being attacked by a gun-toting homicidal maniac on a murdering spree, it might be not be the worst idea in the world to have a gun yourself:

“If one of those kids in one of those classrooms was packin’ heat, I think that would not have happened. The perpetrator of that crime would have thought twice before walking into a classroom if he thought there was any chance of someone being armed and preventing him from doing that."

We know, we know, this kind of deranged tea-party-inspired madness has no place in modern discourse.

As any security expert will tell you, the only way to ensure your safety when confronted by a gun-toting homicidal maniac on a murdering spree is to call the proper authorities and wait patiently for them to arrive as only they have the training and skills necessary to handle these situations.  Among those proper authorities would be the police, the medical examiner, the mortician, the grief counselor and the obituary editor of your local paper.

In fact, governmental authorities believe the best way to maximize your personal safety is to create broad areas in which no one is legally permitted to possess a firearm.

Government Authorized KIlling Field But you can’t stop there. To be really safe, you have to take that extra step and make sure you advertise that fact as widely as possible, since the more people who know that a given area is populated by hundreds of defenseless pre-victims, the safer they’ll all be.

You can try this strategy yourself.  The next time you’re going away for a few days, leave your house unlocked and make sure you update your facebook page, tweet your followers, and post your plans on Craig’s List, so as many people know as possible being sure to note in very stern language that burglary is illegal. 

And then sit back and enjoy your worry-free trip.

Mr. Fimian’s opponent, current incumbent Congressman Gerry Connolly, had his campaign manager, James Walkinshaw, respond in the measured tones that have marked this campaign season, calling Fimian’s comments, “extreme,” “outrageous,” “way out of the mainstream," showing a  “lack of regard for the victims of the tragedy,” and “too extreme.”

There was no word on whether Mr. Walkinshaw required oxygen afterwards.

Naturally, Mr Fimian, being a principled Republican, quickly apologized for his remarks and claimed that rather than suggest students should be allowed to carry firearms, he had actually meant to say that the local share of mass transit funds are inequitably distributed.

Simple slip of the tongue, you see.

As for us, should we ever find ourselves confronted by a gun-toting homicidal maniac on a murdering spree we’re going to sigh in relief:

“Good thing we’re completely defenseless! Thank you Congressman Gerry Connolly, thank you for caring just so damn much.”

J.

October 29, 2010 at 04:52 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 28, 2010

Top Ten Things That Did NOT Require Government Vision And Government Incentive

At a fund raiser in New York City this week, Vice President Joe Biden told those assembled that:

"Every single great idea that has marked the 21st century, the 20th century and the 19th century has required government vision and government incentive."

Naturally, we take issue with this, and would like to point out…

The Top Ten Things That Did Not Require Government Vision And Government Incentive

10) Shark Week.

9) Ladies’ Night.

8) Shazam iPhone App.

7) 1969 Dodge Charger.

6) Pac Man.

5) The miniskirt.

4) The Aloha shirt.

3) Kentucky bourbon.

2) The martini.

And the #1 thing that did not require government vision and government incentive:

1) Chocolate covered bacon.

Chocolate Covered Bacon

However, the Vice President does have a point.  There are certain things government is uniquely suited for.  And so we have…

The Top Ten Things That Do Require Government Vision And Government Incentive

10) Censorship.

9) Inflation.

8) Taxes.

7) Oppression.

6) Prohibition.

5) Property seizures.

4) Barney Frank’s career.

3) War.

2) Genocide.

1) Moon landings.

Hey, one out of ten ain’t bad!

J.

October 28, 2010 at 10:15 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 27, 2010

Garry Trudeau on The Difficulty of Satirizing Obama

Asked by Slate who is the hardest politician to satirize, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau answered:

 "Believe it or not, Obama's very tough for business. The contradictory characterizations of him as fascist or socialist only serve to confirm the truth—he's a raging moderate. And satirists don't do well with moderates, especially thoughtful ones. In addition, Obama rarely makes gaffes and has no salient physical or temperamental features. And sinking popularity isn't a critique. Even SNL's main rap on him is his unflappability, hardly a vice in a world leader."

We would like to be among the first to congratulate Mr. Trudeau on emerging from his coma, apparently entered into on or about January 2o, 2009.  Best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery. You've got a lot of catching up to do!


J.

October 27, 2010 at 03:43 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 25, 2010

All The Spin That’s Fit To Print

In an editorial this past Sunday morning, the New York Times came out swinging against “Republican candidates and deep-pocketed special interests” which “are spreading so many distortions and outright lies about health care reform that it is little wonder if voters are anxious and confused.”

Not to mention “scared and traumatized with an inability to think clearly.”

It’s as if we’re living in one big episode of “The Real Housewives of the American Electorate.”

Let take a look at these “distortions and outright lies” the Times identifies:

According to the Times, it is “PURE NONSENSE” that:

The law will require patients to go through a bureaucrat or panel to reach a doctor. That is flat out untrue. You will still choose your own doctor or insurance plan without interference.”

And by “choose your own plan” they mean you can choose any plan you like, as long as it is among the choices the government permits you to have.  Kind of like an Iranian election only without as much facial hair.

“Nor, despite other claims, will the law provide subsidized insurance to illegal immigrants. They are precluded from using even their own money to buy policies on new exchanges.”

Precluded in the way in you are precluded from speeding on a deserted Interstate highway at 3 AM when the donuts are just coming out of the fryer.

“The Obama administration will not be compiling a federal health record on all citizens, including each individual’s body mass index.”

It’s a preposterous idea. Insane, and without any basis in fact.  Rather:

“The administration is offering incentives to doctors to record various vital statistics in electronic medical records and report the data in the aggregate, to help understand national health trends.”

Which is about 23% less creepy.

Republican politicians never tire of denouncing health care reform as a ‘government takeover’ — or socialism. What is true is that the law relies heavily on private insurers and employers to provide coverage.”

That certainly is generous of them. A 2000-page bill that details the how when where who and what of national health care still allows private interests to participate. 

“…exchanges will promote greater competition among insurers and a better deal for consumers, which last time we checked was a fundamental of capitalism.”

And last we checked, there is no need for the government to create exchanges in order to “promote greater competition” among providers of cell phones, televisions, polo shirts, corn chips, patio furniture, dog grooming services, home improvement contractors… well pretty much everything.

“WHAT ABOUT MCDONALD’S? Conservative commentators pounced after the fast food chain and several other large employers that provide skimpy, low-cost policies to their workers warned that they might drop their health plans entirely if forced to comply with the new law.

In response, the administration has granted some 30 waivers for one year.

In 2014, all plans will have to meet minimal standards and large employers will have to provide coverage or pay a stiff fine.”

It is clearly a distortion and an outright lie that… well, we’re really not sure what.  Btu we’re pretty darned outraged about it.

Some Republicans are also claiming that health reform is driving up premiums… A few very welcome provisions that take effect early, like requiring insurers to cover preventive care without cost-sharing, will play a minor role in premium increases for next year.”

So it’s an outright lie that reform is driving up costs.  Except where it is. And it is.

“MEDICARE SCARE TACTICS: Republican candidates routinely and cynically charge that the reform law will “cut” $500 billion from Medicare — leaving the clear implication that benefits will be reduced.”

How dare Republicans imply that cutting $500 billion out of a program might reduce benefits!

“ In reality, the law will slow the rate of increase in payments to health care providers over the next decade, and benefits for most beneficiaries will be as good or better than they are now.”

Because as we know, all you have to do is pay someone less, and they’ll provide you better service.  Try that with your lawn care company.  Or your lawyer.

“The only beneficiaries apt to see a change are those enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans that will lose their unjustified subsides. Many of these beneficiaries, roughly a quarter of the Medicare population, may have to pay more for their plans or may lose the extra benefits.”

It’s a an outright lie that reform will cut benefits. Except where it does.

“MEDICAID SCARE TACTICS: Republican governors are complaining bitterly that reform will force them to expand their Medicaid programs. What they are not saying is that the federal government will pick up the vast bulk of the added expense to cover millions of vulnerable Americans.”

It’s an outright lie that reform will force states to expand their Medicaid programs.  Except where it does.

“States that do not want this largess will be shortchanging the health of their poorest citizens, who will continue to use costly — to the state and the taxpayers — emergency rooms for routine health care.”

Exactly. Rather than have the poorest citizens continue to use costly emergency rooms for routine health care, everyone will!

Things would be going a lot more smoothly if the GOP would simply adopt the Democrat’s talking points when it comes to health care reform.

Just like the New York Times!

J.

October 25, 2010 at 11:34 AM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 22, 2010

Intolerantophobia: The Irrational Fear of Appearing to be Intolerant

In the midst of making the point that it is extremely important that we not discriminate against all Muslims based on the actions of a few, Juan Williams said on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News program:

"But when I get on a plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they're identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous."

Naturally, people were outrageously outraged at this, particularly “CAIR” (Counsel on Abetting Islamic Radicals) which said in a the statement:

"NPR should address the fact that one of its news analysts seems to believe that all airline passengers who are perceived to be Muslim can legitimately be viewed as security threats"

This is, of course, crazy talk. Nuts, just loony without any legitimate foundation whatsoever.

Okay, sure, there was that 9/11 contretemps, but that was a long time ago.  And as CAIR points out:

"Such irresponsible and inflammatory comments would not be tolerated if they targeted any other racial, ethnic or religious minority."

This is true, but then, no other racial, ethnic or religious minority has among its members, an organized group dedicated to the destruction of America.  Tom Cruise is not orchestrating a worldwide jihad in the name of Scientology from a secret lair hidden deep within the rugged hills of Beverly. Well, not unless you consider “Far And Away” a crime against humanity.

There’s just no getting around it. Fair or not, Islam has itself a PR problem.

How do you deal with this kind of problem? There are some good examples of crisis management the Muslim community might want to consider.  For example, there is the Tylenol tampering scare of 1982 in which seven people were killed consuming Tylenol that had been dosed with cyanide:

“Johnson & Johnson was faced with the dilemma of the best way to deal with the problem without destroying the reputation of the company and its most profitable product.

Although Johnson & Johnson knew they were not responsible for the tampering of the product, they assumed responsibility by ensuring public safety first.“

Had Johnson & Johnson instead followed the current Muslim playbook they would have first responded to the incident by reassuring the public that the vast majority of Tylenol capsules would not in fact kill you, that Tylenol was the “pain reliever of peace,” and anyone who expressed any wariness whatsoever at the thought of taking Tylenol should be fired.

And today we’d all be taking Aspirin-Free Anacin.

CAIR claims to recognize they have a problem, noting in its outrageously outraged press release that it has put out a lengthy pamphlet called, “Your Rights and Responsibilities as an American Muslim” in which the word “right” or “rights” appears 33 times.

 The word “responsibility” appears once.

In the title.

Okay, they may need some work in the sincerity department.

Which brings us back to Juan Williams, who was fired days later from his long-time job at National Public Radio (NPR).   

Justifying the move, NPR’s ombudsman noted:

“Instead, this latest incident with Williams centers around a collision of values: NPR's values emphasizing fact-based, objective journalism versus the tendency in some parts of the news media, notably Fox News, to promote only one side of the ideological spectrum.”

Such as when that same ombudsmen earlier in the piece says:

“Later in that segment, Williams did challenge O'Reilly's apparent contention that every Muslim on the planet is an extremist bent on attacking America.”

Yes O’Reilly painstakingly and repeatedly makes the exact opposite point, but whom are you going to believe?  NPR’s “fact-based, objective journalism” or your own lying eyes?

How deeply does this totally illegitimate wariness of Muslims run?

It includes Muslims:

“Stephen Schwartz, executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, echoed Fatah and Jasser. Schwartz told TheDC that he and his organization opposed NPR’s reaction to Williams’ comments.

“Mr. Williams is basically an opinion journalist and he offered an opinion based on an undeniable reality: American Muslims have so far failed in our duty to prevent negative perceptions among our non-Muslim neighbors, and many, unfortunately, have taken the existing concerns among non-Muslims as a challenge to assert Muslim identity more aggressively, through forms of dress as well as speech that are often extravagant and excessive,” Schwartz wrote in an e-mail to TheDC.”

You know things are bad when even Muslims are anti-Muslim

Regardless, it’s ridiculous to even suggest that people might express anxiety over Muslims in any way under any circumstances even those that closely resemble incidences in which 3000 Americans were murdered and it is particularly important those in the media set an example for the rest of us, demonstrating their deeply held belief that we have nothing more to fear from Muslims than any other group.

Which is why the media lives in constant terror of doing anything that could even remotely agitate Muslims, lest they be inadvertently frothed up and direct their uncontrollable murderous rage at them.

But you?  You’re a bigot and a coward and a racist and probably should seek psychiatric help for even suggesting a concern that there may be some vague remote connection between Islam and Islamic terrorism.

But it's not too late to become tolerant of other ideas and progressive in your worldview.  All you have to do is demand that anyone who does not march in lockstep conformity be punished.

This tolerance thing is easier than we thought it was going to be.

J.

October 22, 2010 at 01:40 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 21, 2010

The US Chamber of Mercantilism, er, Commerce

In their latest issue, Bloomberg/BusinessWeek examined why the United States Chamber of Commerce has been shying away from endorsing Tea Party candidates.  Apparently, the candidates are simply too extreme for the business organization.  As Otis Rawl, chief executive officer of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce puts it:

“We prefer candidates who are not extreme.”

What makes a candidate extreme in the eyes of the Chamber of Commerce?

In part, their opposition to having the government give your money to members of the Chamber of Commerce. According to John Castellani, head of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA):

"A lot of the agenda is being driven by the extremes. This kind of extremism makes it much harder to plan from a business perspective.”

You know what makes it easier “to plan from a business perspective?”

Making a sweetheart deal behind closed doors with the White House that guarantees that the government will give more of your money to members of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

This kind of extremist opposition to having the government hand your money over to private businesses with really good lobbying contacts is like a cancer that runs throughout the Tea Party movement. For example, Rand Paul favored letting the failing automobile companies actually fail which would have:

“…ramifications not only for car companies and parts makers but also for agriculture, mining, and other industries dependent on government support.”

The problem is, the Tea Party extremists take the extremely extremist position that perhaps private businesses should get by without government support, maybe even look into competing on the basis of price, service, and product, with their investors bearing the brunt of bad decisions and reaping the rewards of good ones.

Talk about wacko.

You see, the Chamber of Commerce isn’t a “shadowy” organization with an unknowable agenda as President Obama claims.

Fighting For Your Tax Dollars

J.

October 21, 2010 at 01:13 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 19, 2010

You Ever Get The Feeling That No Matter What You Do, They're Never Going To Let You Into The Club?

Karl Rove, on Tea Party's unsophisticated reading habits:

“It's not like these people have read the economist Friedrich August von Hayek.”

The New York Times on Tea Party's unsophisticated reading habits:

"Tea Party supporters, many of whom gathered in August in Washington, have made best sellers out of books by long-dead authors like Frédéric Bastiat and Friedrich Hayek."

In related news: Sarah Palin is mocked for knowing more about history than her detractors.

J.

 

October 19, 2010 at 05:04 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 18, 2010

Also, The Sky Is Not Blue

In a debate this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was accused of having said at the height of the Iraqi conflict, “this war is lost.”

Well, he wasn’t going to take that scurrilous accusation lying down and so came out swinging the next day on Twitter pointing to his “Fact Check” page:

Reid Lie

As you can see, Reid never said the “war is lost,” only that in order to win, we needed a two-part strategy involving economic and political solutions.

Naturally, there are those on the super far extremist Nazi tea party right who want to see Harry Reid lose so badly, that they are willing to smear him any way they can up to and including using the dubious tactic know as “the words that came out of his mouth:”

Is nothing sacred anymore?  Are we now condemned to live in a world where even our most public utterances can be easily disseminated for all the world to see?

Are we voyeurs, or are we voters?

This still leaves open the question as to why Harry Reid would insist he never said the war in Iraq is lost.  Some possible explanations:

Let’s just say the guy isn’t a young man anymore. When he said “lost,” he meant he couldn’t find it.

He was talking about a different war. Perhaps the one being fought against the Chamber of Commerce.

It was an innocent Freudian slip.  Instead of saying, “the war is lost,” he had meant to say, “you ruined my life.”

The tape is obviously garbled, He actually said, “The whore got tossed,” meaning instead of getting criticized, he should be getting a NOW endorsement by the end of the week.

In other news, you're an idiot.

J.

October 18, 2010 at 01:23 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 15, 2010

Maybe It’s Just Bad Lighting

Barack Obama has been desperately trying to warn unwary Americans that they are surrounded by “shadowy groups” that are “a threat to our democracy.”

Among these groups would be the Chamber of Commerce, a mysterious organization of unknown origin, its motives as puzzling as they are enigmatic. As the President points out:

“The American people deserve to know who is trying to sway their elections. You don't know because they don't have to disclose.”

Concerned as to the hidden agenda of the shadowy Chamber of Commerce, we here at Planet Moron conducted a thorough investigation and have uncovered, perhaps for the first time, the truth about the Chamber of Commerce. It is:

“The world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses.”

That’s right, not only is it an organization made up of businesses, but it is pursuing the interests of those very same businesses.

Sure, that’s a pretty explosive charge, but we wouldn’t make it if we didn’t have the evidence to back it up: As it turns out, the Chamber has a chink in it’s shadowy armor of deception having inadvertently posted this damning information on a little-known information source sometimes menacingly referred to as “the web,” buried there in the first paragraph of their “About” page. 

As Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen said:

“I think a lot of these Tea Party people would be shocked to know that the candidates they favored are now being largely propelled by the dollars of the special interests that they revile."

As anyone who has ever been to a tea party rally can tell you, most of the signs people show off revile private business.  Well, after all the racist ones

But the President has been beset by shadowy groups for years, having had his then campaign manager, David Plouffe, warn darkly of the peril in 2008:

"John McCain, the RNC, the shadowy outside groups are not going to let this election happen without a fight. Right around the corner we're going to see millions of dollars attacking Barack, attacking Michelle Obama and we have to have the ability to fight back."

And fight back we must against our mysterious foe!

Obama-I See Shadowy People

J.

October 15, 2010 at 03:25 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack