Sunday, October 31

Hey, We Waited Until Paragraph Twelve. That's The Patience Of Job In Journalism Terms.

James Hohmann and Marin Cogan in Politico's Stewart Rally coverage:
Most signs fit with the happy-go-lucky ethos of the rally, but others were crude. One sign had Hitler mustaches on pictures of Sarah Palin, Eric Cantor, Glenn Beck and John Boehner. The message said, “Afraid yet?” This is particularly insulting to Cantor, who is Jewish and in line to become House Majority Leader if Republicans win next week.

OKAY, assuming this is so--and nobody ever says that Hitler mustaches are particularly offensive to Barney Frank or Doogie Howser, or that that Goldberg book is particularly offensive to descendants of the liberals who fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade--shouldn't Hitler mustaches on anyone, other than Hitler, Charlie Chaplin, and maybe that guy from Sparks, be particularly offensive to Eric Cantor? (And, granted, he's complained about Limbaugh. I'm not knocking Cantor. I'm sayin' maybe it would be easier for the guys from Politico to keep it in their pants if they learned how a zipper works.)

Friday, October 29

Putting The I In "Intuit". And The Twit.

David Brooks, "The Next Two Years". October 28

THE other day I went looking for some piece of Brooks' bio--damned if I can remember what now--and a promising Googlead turned out to be a sort of cracked mirror image of myself. It's not surprising, of course, that there are people out there who admire Brooks when he's dispensing right-wing talking points, and dislike his periodic forays into mock-reasonableness. (It is perhaps a bit surprising that anyone who thinks that way bothers with him.) What really did take me aback, momentarily, was that this guy actually buys the whole routine, and was incensed that Brooks had moderately praised Rahm Emanuel, or moderately deplored nuclear war, or something' (I'm kidding; it was Rahm. There's no way Brooks would criticize our last sixty-five years of explosive military diarrhea.) So this is not the reverse of my position, which maintains that Brooks suffers from Pernicious Reaganinfantilism, and can't identify enough of the truth to miss or bend. It is, rather, that same blasted American cultural landscape in which Coke is It, Pepsi hits the Spot, and people are interesting because they're on th' teevee. You may agree or disagree with Brooks, or Beck, or Snooki, but you are not permitted to question the integrity of either of their two dimensions. (I used to shop in the same grocery as The Teevee Weather Lady; observing the reaction she provoked you were forgiven for wondering why this country ever imagined it had to rid itself of Monarchs. This is, I think I've mentioned before, the single cultural trend, or occurrence, or whatever it is, that I would flat not have believed had you revealed it to me via Time Machine in 1972. It was, perhaps, the only point in my youth where idealism trumped the eye-opening results of growing up on the westside of Indianapolis: I was absolutely convinced, to the point of not even considering it, that a generation's familiarity with advertising, through the newfangled color teevee box, would breed a contempt so thorough that the mere hint of lying, the merest whiff of hard sell or softened soap, would be enough to bankrupt a brand forever. I knew this as certainly as I knew that a transparent boob like Ronald Reagan could never become President.)

Could you and I, O Reader, have conspired for ten minutes eighteen months ago--nay, if you matched my own cynicism, two years ago!--to write today's Brooks column for him? Historic defeat, blah blah. Generic polls blah blah blah. Big Spender, blah, out of touch with real America, blah blah blah blah blah. And, of course, the prescription: Obama must now become more like David Brooks!

Which sorta raises the question, for me, of where exactly this David Brooks was when spiteful January raised her head in 2008, and Barack Obama looked like the Republican's one chance to avoid losing to the bitchful Hillary:
Then he got defined as an orthodox, big government liberal who lacks deep roots in American culture.

Somewhere the Cracked Mirror Riley is incensed that Brooks merely suggests that Obama isn't an American, rather than owning up. And somewhere, in some parallel universe where he has the time to give a shit, Bruce Springsteen is demanding his poster back.

I, on the other hand, merely wish to point out that a couple centuries of being as rooted to a particular place as the trees they occasionally swung from didn't do African-Americans a world of good.

Anyway, Mr. Brooks: you're fifty years old. Near half a lifetime has passed since you touched the hem of Milt Friedman's garment. That's seven mid-terms ago; one--the pants-pissing contest of 2004--went the President's way. I'm more wooly mammoth than spring chicken myself, so I don't expect you not to crow about virtual poll wins and historic gobbledegook. I do expect that at some point you might pause to consider what's what, if only for the sense of novelty. You may be better off than you were twenty-nine years ago (granted, I'm no expert in assessing the psychic pits, pockmarks, and tumors of a life spent lying for money), but do you really imagine the country is? That country you imagine inherently agrees with you, except when it's misguided? Three decades, historic slashing of tax rates, historic inequities, four historic recessions, two jobless recoveries, and a political culture which has gone from corrupt, dishonest, and banal, to corrupt, dishonest, banal, and breathtakingly stupid. Now you think Americans "fear their nation is in decline"? Now we're threatened by debt, deficit, bailouts and self-indulgence? Th' fuck were you when Reagan tripled the Debt? When Bush I bailed out the S&L mess created in the hot torrents of incontinent deregulation? The historic reversal of our deficit trend under Bush II was okey-dokey by you, until after the 2004 elections, when your middling expressions of concern, safely beyond repercussion, meant nothing besides a hoped-for salutary effect on your own Moderate career.

I don't know who you think this is foolin', Dave. Okay, I do, I just wonder if you think you're foolin' yourself. I've just sat through the stupidest election cycle in Indiana history, and only 2000 and foregone conclusions have kept it from the all-time top spot. That's not my partisan opinion. It's fucking incontrovertible fact. In a state which has led the nation in Stopping Voter Fraud Which Has Never, Ever Occurred, we're about to elect as Secretary of State--the state's top voting official--a guy who voted illegally in 2008, preserving a fraudulent registration so he could keep his government job. His campaign ads depict him as a Tax Cutter; the Secretary of State has no revenue responsibilities whatsoever. He might as well've pledged to buy cheaper envelopes this time, and check the ads for toner sales. The incumbent State Treasurer is campaigning on the fact that he managed to earn interest on the money we had lying around. Unlike the last Democrat, who kept it under his mattress. Mitch Daniels is spending some of his PAC money plugging state races; being forced to watch campaign ads for state races alone should make a proud and free people rise as one and beat the shit out of him, but the remarkable thing to me is, they're all canned, like he allotted fifteen minutes for the whole process, and catch him in half-profile, which accentuates his Nixonian hauteur to near-parody. The Democrat (note: graded on a curve) running for the seat Evan Bayh is just too distraught to defend has accused the Republican of being insufficiently anti-abortion. That's Dan Coats, by the way, one of the myriad Republicans who vow to end the Socialist Obamacare in order to strengthen Medicare.

You really imagine this bunch, and this approach, is the key to rescuing Columbia Herself from the twilight tailspin into Oblivion? And maybe Bond in Seconds, Get Teeth Their Whitest, and Kill the Germs that Cause Bad Breath? Best of luck. Is it too soon to write your November 2012 column for ya?

Wednesday, October 27

May You Never Get Old

Matt Bai, "In Time of Change, Nostalgia Has Appeal". October 27

I B'LIEVE I'm on record as granting permission to anyone who wants to to bash "Boomers" for a multitude of real sins: opposition to the enormity of US involvement in Indochina, which lapsed as soon as the threat of conscription did (in fairness I, born in the closing moments of 1953, was eligible for the last six months of the draft; so 2/3 of Boomers, by median if not mean, never risked a government-sponsored jungle trip at all). Blame 'em for insufficient resistance to the the post-facto rewrite that portrayed that war as a fine little patriotic excursion spoiled by a few chronic grumblers and ungovernable loogie launchers; for the hypocritical descent into mindless consumerism and real estate acquisition of the Reagan/Yuppie era; for Reagan himself; for the soul-deadening shallowness that replaced the News, and our politics; for that commercial that uses Melanie's "Brand New Key"; and for everyone named "Dylan".

Here is a partial list of things you cannot blame on Boomers. In fact, let's rephrase that. Here is a partial list of thing you must either be a total idiot, a liar, or a sad-sack careerist mining the endless lode of "My Generation Uses the Internet, while Yours Had Enormous Rotary Phones and Sideburns", or all three, to blame on us:

• Boomers are not responsible for the fact that old people tend to xenophobia, terminal crotchets, and a lack of familiarity with the latest dance steps. Similarly, your generation is not to blame for inventing the extraordinarily broad and unwarranted generalization that puts your sorry, complaining, never-did-nothing-worth-spit ass in the best possible light by comparing it to something worse and imaginary.

• We're not responsible for the rise of that paranoid and post-war domestic fascism program which eventually merged with the Republican party around the time the oldest of Boomers was learning to drive.

• In fact we're not responsible for the massive propaganda campaigns which, since 1946, convinced Americans that invasion, subjugation, and forced sex with garlicky foreigners was right around the corner unless we kept our military brass crotch-deep in jet/atomic/digital-powered bombers and golf courses.

• Nor the corporate takeover of America, of roughly the same vintage.

Let's just note here that, while you're so busy congratulating yourself on living in a post-racial neighborhood you've done nothing whatsoever to address the rapidly expanding implementation of the last three, with a particular note about how easy it's been to scare Post-Racial, Internet-Savvy America with the specter of brown men stealing our freedoms with shampoo bombs. Just like everyone else.
And yet, a less noticed undercurrent is pulling politics in the opposite direction, too. The latest polling suggests we may see the election of several venerable politicians to offices they held before, including some who haven’t governed since the days when “apple” and “blackberry” referred primarily to fruit. And this suggests that as much as we talk about closing the book on the last era of American politics, we may be having some trouble letting go.

Y'know, I love it when a totally artificial meme is stood on its head by the very people who perpetrate the fraud in the first place, and then the crazy juxtaposition! is displayed as some sort of glimpse at a parallel universe, which somehow then proves the original contention. It's why I try to start every morning off by reading Slate.
The poster septuagenarian for this new crop of resurrected office-seekers is Jerry Brown, who was the youngest governor in the country when Californians elected him to the first of two terms in 1974. (Mr. Brown was famous then for dating Linda Ronstadt. You can Google her, or just ask your mom.)

Okay, we're often called upon here to explain some humor basics. First, like most people, this construction (bygone cultural icon + "ask your mom" = funny) worked on us the first 6 or 7 thousand times we heard it, but since then, eh. Second, the humor [if any] really requires that Bygone Cultural Icon be someone the average audience [if any] member had at least some vague familiarity with, i.e., someone still in the public eye but increasingly seen as a tired relic squeezing out link sausages to a rapidly deceasing audience. The Eagles. Ask your mom. Bon Jovi. Ask your mom. It doesn't really work when 52% of your audience really would have to ask its mom who someone was. It doesn't work on someone whose last album/tour was twenty years ago, unless that person was the most hugely colossalest star of his time. Garth Brooks. Ask your ma.

Now then. I, Boomer, was among the first batch of eighteen-year-olds allowed to vote in a Presidential election, in 1972. This means that, in my rapidly-dwindling lifetime, I've had the opportunity to vote against Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan (twice) G.H.W.H.M.S Bush (twice), and Bob Dole. It was twenty years before I had the change to vote for one of my generational buddies, and ten more before the first (and probably next-to-last) chance to pick between two. So shut th' fuck up about Jerry Brown, fer chrissakes. Or better yet, move there, vote against him, and help the younger, internet-savvy inmates take over the rest of the asylum. Ask your mother.

By the way, has anyone calculated the odds that the sort of person who makes a career of making shit up about randomly ascribed collections of birth years will also claim that two instances of something unremarkable constitute a Trend?

Tuesday, October 26

Who, What, When, Where, And Nobody Likes A Sarcastic Wimp

David Brooks, "No Second Thoughts". October 26

I NEVER kept a journal back in the quill and parchment days, and my advice to the legions of up-and-coming bloggers--beyond the fact that it's not as glamorous as it looks--is to choose your bête noir with more care than I did mine.

I'm not apologizing. I've noted here before that while Brooks may not be as stupid as Erick Erickson, or as faux-incendiary as Ann Coulter--consider, Reader, how difficult it is to choose a single avatar for those conditions!--he is Your Race Leader in Hypocrisy. In fact, David Brooks is the fucking wrapper Republican Hypocrisy comes in these days, or was 'til they went with the Teabag brand, not that that's slowed him down. He's a virtual Swiss Army knife. He's the German Shepard of all-arounders. He's among the career leaders in Pretending Republican Talking Points Are the Product of Your Own Ratiocination (13,655), Facile Moralisms (43,866), Assuming the Mantle of Middle-American Worker Without Ever Living In Middle America or Working (9,427), Average Speed in Defending Republicans Doing What Should, By His Supposed Principles, Be Indefensible (1.2 columns), and Smarm. He's got nine Gold Gloves for his work in defending his supposed moderation, by having mastered the technique of half-grimacing on those rare occasions when Jim Lehrer or--heaven forfend!--Mark Shields brings up some example of the hydrophobic rat infestation which is his side of the political spectrum. David Brooks is the sort of reasonable Conservative who doesn't mind if gays marry or serve in the military! He's the sort who probably doesn't think abortion is always murder! He is, however, the sort who doesn't exactly stand up for those "principles" when his party goes a'harvesting votes from that direction.

And I am from Middle America. To me the guy with the bone-through-the-nose Obama poster is much less a danger to the Republic than the guy who's too smart to do it himself, but doesn't mind other people doin' it for him, so long as he reaps most of the benefits. It's President Palin vs. President Daniels. President Nixon vs President Brain-Damaged B Actor. They're both out to mug you. It's just that with one of 'em you can hear the war whoops two blocks before they reach you.

On the other hand, I really had no idea, back when I started doing this, that a) The New York Times would wind up being a regional shopping leaflet; and b) that Brooks was capable of the levels of disingenuousness he's shown there. (Meaning, of course, compound disingenuousness, not the simple sort of which his career is built.)
When times get tough, it’s really important to believe in yourself. This is something the Democrats have done splendidly this year. The polls have been terrible, and the party may be heading for a historic defeat, but Democrats have done a magnificent job of maintaining their own self-esteem. This is vital, because even if the public doesn’t approve of you, it is important to approve of yourself.

Y'know, no one's gonna goad me into defending Democrats, but Reality is a different matter. The Democrats aren't in whatever situation they're in (election results are a week away; maybe we can wait that long to count the votes) because of hubris; they're where they are because they've been running from Ronald Reagan for thirty years. They found themselves, last January, with two bad choices: a compromised healthcare bill, or a failure to deliver on the healthcare promises their landslide President had made. Surprising at least one observer (me, who expected them to fold yet again), they took option A. They are now blamed for this; had the vote gone the other way they'd be blamed for that. And they are to blame, because even if they couldn't see which way the wind was blowing they could've checked in with 1992 again. They didn't lose those fights through supreme self-confidence. They lost because they thought they could win by refusing to fight. It's stupid, and when you see a crowd of ostensibly smart people doing something stupid--assuming that surprises you in the least--you look for some ulterior reason. And that reason is they're still running from Ronald Reagan thirty years later. They're afraid to propose the United States of America spend money on programs that benefit anyone other than the wealthiest 5%, for fear of being called Tax n' Spenders, and they're afraid to cut the astronomically absurd "Defense" budget for fear of being called unpatriotic. They're afraid to make corporations pay fairly, and in full, for their benefits and for the sound operation of a free and just society, and they're afraid to make them pay for shipping American jobs overseas. They're afraid of Roger Fucking Ailes. They're afraid of using the system to their advantage the way Republicans do without blinking, and they're afraid of their own constituencies. They're afraid of Ben Fucking Nelson and Evan Bugwit Bayh. Mostly they're convinced, and have been for some time, that electability is more important than being right or doing what's right, and they're convinced that corporate donations are more important than defending a belief system.

They find themselves here because they imagined, somehow, they imagined, yet again, they could deal rationally with a bunch of criminally self-serving pathological liars. Because they imagined they could compromise with the likes of you, Dave, and then you'd let them hide behind you when your people started saying mean things.

Y'know, I don't give a fuck if Dems go down to defeat next week; I think it would've been better for them if their pathetic track record in 2006-2008 led to a defeat last time, one which woke them up to the fact that "moderate" Democrats are the Möbius Band of American politics: you travel along and get nowhere but back where you started. The only thing worse than defeating deserving Democrats is replacing them with the Clown Car from Hell which is the Republican party. Y'know, Dave: the party that remained supremely self-confident as it destroyed the US economy and our military and diplomatic standing overseas. And the only thing worse than electing more of those idiots is the sort of "moderate" Republican who pretends he's not quite sure how they got seated at his table.

Monday, October 25


• We're leaking, but the good news is it can't possibly be brain fluid: four days after we got 400,000 pages on the Great Cluster Fuck in Iraq, the Times coverage--after thoughtfully including a top-of-the-Sunday-frontpage exposé of how Julian Assange Just Isn't Our Kind (Daniel Ellsberg went to a psychiatrist!)--I'm convinced, by the way, that absent Ben Bradlee and whatever honor remains among thieves, the Times would have hired Sally Quinn away from the Post years ago--the whole thing's down to a box in the corner. So Last Week! I am reminded of what I said in 2002: the main argument against our invading Iraq, or anyone, for that matter, is that this country is too juvenile to handle it. We should have picked up on this when the warfloggers blamed Life for My Lai. Now our newspapers can't handle the news.

Reggie Bush returned his Heisman. On his own. Just saying'.

• On the other hand, "Karzai takes money from Iran" has legs. Or maybe that's just to make up for "Secret donors run US campaigns: Who are we to judge?"

• My memory's going: has there been a national election since 1980 which was about anything?

GM PAC gives Mitch McConnell $5000. In other news, Mitch McConnell accepts $5000 from GM.

Enjoy the next couple months, motherfuckers, until the Teabaggers take over.

As we’ve noted, every journalist flies to Finland to examine its high-scoring (middle-class) schools. This furthers a preferred press corps narrative: Our own public schools are a mess!

But please note: No one has ever flown to Finland to explore a second question: How do they provide health care at such a very low cost? Here are the OECD data for the U.S. and Finland:

Total spending on health care, per person, 2007:

United States: $7285

Finland: $2900

How weird! Why does no one fly to Finland to examine this major achievement?

• You gotta get up pretty early in the morning to slip a similarity past a Post staff writer:
Nevertheless, the similarities to Beck's rally are just the sort of thing Stewart himself would satirize on his show if, of course, it weren't his rally and his TV show in the first place.

• No, really: Joe Frontiera and Dan Leidi, columnists, consultants, and concerned clip-art bystanders, "Don't Get Fooled Again: The Baby Boomers' leadership failure".

• Your Moment of Zen:

Admirable is he, who when he
sees lightning, does not say
"Life goes by like a flash."


Saturday, October 23

A Lady In Private And A Whore In Public

NBC News Raccoon Brian Williams:
TVNewser: It’s been an interesting month for the TV business, with Rick Sanchez let go by CNN, and now FNC’s Juan Williams fired by NPR. What do you think of all this, and what do you think of the media coverage of these controversial developments?

Brian Williams: We’ve [covered] Juan the past two nights. The other two networks led with Juan Williams last night. I didn’t think it was quite at that level. But this is ‘eye of the beholder’ stuff. This is where, as someone said on our air last night, the First Amendment gives you the right to say what you want. It doesn’t give you the right to be employed.

So, these media organizations are exerting their own right to employ or not employ these folks. But I think there has been a little bit of a thread of media people, in the public eye, saying things and paying a price for it.

Yet Brian Williams, whom NBC Brand News goes With, both teased and opened the story on Thursday by saying it "raised questions about Political Correctness", before tossing to Andrea Mitchell, who had thoughtfully interrupted her tireless pursuit of Just Who in the Brown Campaign Called Meg Whitman a Swear to cover another major story.

Then the goddam thing rates a second night! More fallout! Jesus, Brian, your name's on the fucking show. If you know the story can be summed up in a sentence, tell me why didn't you sum it up in a sentence?

Political correctness? Sheesh, the only person making it about "Political Correctness" was Juan Williams, and he had a million reasons to do so. (None of which included his integrity as a commentator, of course, because he has none, which is what NPR should have said in the first place. Like at his job interview.)

Is this the way you covered the Sanchez story, Brian? Th' fuck makes "Scary Muslims want to blow up planes" less offensive than "The Jews run everything"? Other than the fact that the Jews run everything, I mean? Why don't you dedicate the second half of your career to actually being a journalist? What's the worst that could happen? How many meals are you going to miss from here on out?

Friday, October 22

The Internets Are Now Closed

CablinasianDem, in comments at Wonkette:

Even when Juan Williams is fired for making inflammatory comments, they're dull, cliche, and uninspired.

Thursday, October 21

The Nixon Revival

MAYBE the case needs to be made, before events make it for me (let us see, for instance, just how simon-pure and post-culture-war the New Republican Majorities remain as the 2012 campaign draws near). I am, the objective Reader will have noted, more interested in saying shit than convincing anyone of it.

I broke with Candidate Obama--that is, I went from potential, if reluctant, supporter back to default and grumbling Democrat--three years ago next week, when he and John Edwards helped Tim "Roasted Potato" Russert gang-tackle Hillary Clinton on the grounds that Eliot Spitzer had done something sensible in between his weekly forced-feminization sessions, and she should answer for it. I was no Hillary supporter--sorry, meant to suggest you sit down first--but was, and am, convinced that this sort of shit is precisely what's wrong with our campaigns, and hence our governance, and that a half-way sensible and decent man foregoes temporal personal gain which comes at the expense of poisoning the public drinking water. Of course, later, Nominee Obama would express his admiration for Ronald Reagan *. I lost it. No, really, before that I was soft-spoken and reasonable. Look it up.

Because, y'know, when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, Barack Obama was a twenty-year-old college student majoring in political science. When I was a twenty-year-old college student majoring in folk pharmaceuticals, I sure as hell knew what a Dick Nixon was.
I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not.

And don't get me wrong: there is absolutely no excuse for the President to've missed what Reagan was about. I happen to think the same is true for every sentient being in this country alive at the time, and certainly for anyone who lived through it as a functioning adult and a Democrat. And the above, by the way, is from his next-day expiation.

I suppose that, under the circumstances, I can be forgiven for blacking out before the remark about Nixon, but the simple fact is that he missed that one, too, and Big Time: Nixon is the man who altered our politics forever, with a single speech, with, in fact, two words: Silent Majority. But Nixon was a petty thug, a war criminal, an impacted bolus of hate in America's transverse colon. Whereas Reagan was an affable dunce whose PR people had finally caught up with the Teevee Age. Nixon had B-52s and unlimited ordnance to drop on Commies, in a war which, however else it gets rewritten in the pop imagination, it is still not quite acceptable to insist was the Right Thing To Do; Reagan only had dumdum bullets and a few fleeing hippies to shoot in the back. Y'know, the sort of thing you forgive if the guy seems like someone you'd wanna have a beer with. So the Right has been able to pretend, for three fucking decades, that it just wants to return us to the simpler, gentler time of Good Ol' Gramps and his common-sense, horse-and-plow wisdom, not lock us back in the closet and give the key, and the cattle prod, to Uncle Ernie and his creepy five o'clock shadow and Beefeater breath.

There was no reason to swallow it then, and there's no reason to swallow it now. The Teabaggers are the grandchildren of the paranoid fascists of the post-war era, whose pinnacle was Richard Nixon. They are not the inheritors of the prop mantle worn by that sainted spokesmodel and Great Communicator. It's well past time for seeing Reagan for what he was; too bad that didn't happen when it might've meant avoiding the dissolution of the middle class, and re-peonage of the poor, and five-fold increase in the prison population. And it's time to start calling The Nixon Revival what it is. Unadulterated, but by no means pure.

* which, of course, he was then forced to admit he meant in a gay way, not politically.

Wednesday, October 20

Ginni Thomas, Take Two

ONE thing you can say for the Great Nixon Revival: it's never gonna lack for Martha Mitchells.

People, And Their Facsimiles, In The News

OKAY, admittedly, I'm but a dilettante at the Law, a mere amateur rhetorician and wannabe electrician, and I'm no a Hazmat technician, I just like wearing the suits. But at this point, since he obviously can't manage to keep Lady Macbeth there indoors, shouldn't Clarence Thomas now recuse himself from any case involving an insanity defense? Can't someone explain to Crazy Ginni that words have meanings, at least they often do when sane people try to use them, and that these words are magically recorded and preserved by answering machines? And has the Thomas household been checked recently for heavy metals? How 'bout the Coke cans?

Christ, if nothing else, can't whoever's been ponying up the wingnut welfare on the grounds that, since she'd done the dirty hula with a Negro she was the one Teabagger who couldn't be called racist, stuff a sock in her or something?

Tuesday, October 19

Sure, Sure, A Pound Of Barnyard Sweepings And A Cup Of Sugar Might Turn Themselves Into A Chocolate Soufflé

Matthew Continetti, "Five Myths About Sarah Palin". October 17

Ross Douthat, "Tales of the Tea Party". October 17

David Brooks, "Don't Follow the Money". October 18

LAST week I got around to watching the POV documentary on Daniel Ellsberg, The Most Dangerous Man in America.

Ellsberg left Harvard to become a Marine. As a civilian military analyst he led mission after mission in Vietnam, like his friend John Paul Vann, going where the brass--let alone the politicians and functionaries--wouldn't have dared. He was a war supporter who gradually came to realize what a lie the whole thing was.

In other words, Daniel Ellsberg had more intellectual courage than the three privileged fucks listed above, their organizations, and their "movement", as well as more physical courage thanthey and the entire Republican leadership. And that's before you factor in risking life in prison to expose the vengeful war criminals who killed twenty times the number of Americans bin-Laden ever did, and millions of the Other, just to keep their Ponzi scheme profitable.

Of course, the whole exercise wound up as a sort of sick comedy, proving that it was easier, and more effective, to hand America a witless bumper sticker than a 1700-page look at what was done in its name, with its money; the reader can decide if there are still any reverberations to be heard today. Nixon won a second term in a landslide; Gene Roddenberry and Roone Arledge served as the boring insects spreading the virus to the twisted bowel of the body politic. You can get into an extended argument over Vietnam today, without effort, with people whose entire position is obliterated by the factual record. Hell, you could get into an argument with so-called Progressives during the Glorious Revolution of 2008 without them displaying the slightest recognition that the United States had ever taken a military action from any motive other than the purest, nor without heavy humanitarian heart. If you haven't heard, within the last six months, that Tet was Actually A US Victory, or that Walter Cronkite sold out the United States (or any other variation on "the media mislead Americans into defeatism"), it can only be because you don't follow the argument.

How many of the well-respected punditasters above do you imagine has ever cracked open a copy of The Pentagon Papers? They do not want to know; they do not want to be forced to apply their easy moral pronouncements to issues that aren't predecided for them. Th' fuck did we get here? Well, we got here because the realities of Vietnam were so ugly, so destructive of the national mythology, that a wide swath of Americans simply decided that talking to themselves was preferable to facing reality. Meet their children. There was certainly an element of this in the opposition to the Civil Rights movement, but that opposition was allowed to show itself plain and in public for many years to come (Bill Buckley was still writing those "King was too a Commie" pieces in the early 80s). Vietnam is to "Conservatism", and its party, what On the Origin of the Species is to backwoods fundamentalist magic.

This is how you get, not only some two-bit whore to shill for Sarah Palin, but a supposed major newsource to publish it. Palin "didn't hurt McCain" because a CNN exit poll of Republican voters says so; what prodigies of illiteracy would this sort of thing evoke in a sane conversation? And that represents the single "fact" offered in "busting" Five "Myths". The rest of the thing is a Bunny Ranch price list for a selection of tawdry corporate sex acts. You know; the Weekly Standard's stock in trade. (I don't care if you imagine that La Palin has her finger in the light socket of some vast Middle American power grid; ignoring her obvious mental incapacity just because she's on your side is beyond the pale. It's no longer a question of what, if anything, can be said to excuse Palin, or O'Donnell, or Angle, or Bachman, or Beck; it's how they come to feel so at home in a major political party that they could walk in and help themselves to the remote. Ask the same goddam thing about Reagan, whom the Right was beginning to criticize in its darkest days, or Bush, whom it now treats as some accidental houseguest, half-remembered only because he left an embarrassing stain on one of the towels. Look: God Knows I'm not exactly thrilled with my own end of the political spectrum, and, especially, its appointed spokescreatures. But there's a clear distinction, at least, in that Glenn Greenwald has been holding the President's feet to the fire since the primaries; compare this to "Palin's uneven performance on the campaign trail". Uneven! The Party of Burke won't even criticize a moran in its midst. Unless it thinks the mic is turned off.)

Which brings us to Douthat, who'd clearly be the village idiot in any decently-educated village. The man made his bones--inexplicably (paging Mr. Moyers!)--by writing, two years ago, that the Republican party needed to become the party of New Ideas; today he writes that Dumb as Dirt is actually pretty insightful, provided you squint just right and are congenitally disposed to believing the last thirty years of economic disaster must be someone else's fault. [Not to mention that the goddam thing recapitulates Continetti's drivel, except Ross Boy could only come up with Four Myths and zero phony facts. Great minds think alike. So they can, too. At any rate, the whole exercise ("For one thing, I never said the downstairs bath had to be Early American") sounds like a strategy session with the divorce lawyer just in case That Cheatin' Bastard tries to keep the House. Which sorta puts the lie to the whole "What Republican Rift"? routine.]

Like Brooks, Douthat for some reason believes arguing with imaginary liberals is a lifetime sinecure. Brooks, who could just as easily be ignored as the rest of this stuff if it weren't being taken seriously by the country's last surviving newspaper, of course, has made the same sort of "peace" with his new, or "new", 300 lb. bunkmate as Douthat; today he's busy swimming in the vast pools of anonymous Republican campaign contribution cess, and pronouncing the stench not so bad if you stand far enough away. Brooks comes up with one-one, (1), O-N-E--example of a race where Democratic outside interests have slightly outspent Republican outside interests, proving for all time that money doesn't influence politics. He points out that in the most heavily contested races Democrats have outspent Republicans. Which is like noting that the Texans at the Alamo had an unfair advantage in interior lines.

I'm long inured to this sort of thing passing for Thought. I just don't know how much longer it'll be before I can understand how it passes for analytical thought.

Monday, October 18

Extrapolations From The Obvious, Poured Appetizingly Over A Shingle

David Broder, "A tentative step toward the Oval Office by a GOP policy guru". October 17

FIRST, I hope you enjoy this as much as I did:
When she vanished, police questioned Condit, making the story even hotter.

The Levys, perhaps inadvertently, fueled the flames, holding vigils and news conferences, hoping to help find their daughter.

Like the time they inadvertently demanded to know why police hadn't searched his apartment.

Hey, didn't Ann Coulter solve the crime? She doesn't get enough credit. Dean?
[I]n a party where a candidate such as Angle can be the nominee against the majority leader, brains are clearly a precious commodity. What we saw in Washington on Thursday night was a reminder that despite the occasional appearance, Republicans do not lack in that regard.

Three guesses.
Back in Washington, the luxury of having a thoughtful presidential contender was striking for everyone hearing Daniels. The onetime Reagan White House political director and Bush White House budget chief is not your run-of-the-mill intellectual. His style is to be down-home, but his record of accomplishment is dazzling.

Dazzling, in the same sense in which David Broder is the Dean of American political analysts. Which, in some sort of mystic cosmic alignment or other, is precisely the same sense in which Mitch Daniels is an intellectual.

Okay, it's Broder; it's like getting upset because Tom Brokaw thinks George Patton won WWII. And it's America, where "intellectual" means "might not embarrass himself on Jeopardy!, provided they used dumbed-down celebrity questions". Still, where does this come from, and why's in it the air for Broder's corpse to latch on to? George Bush's nickname for Mitch? Got a favorite Daniels quote? Dean? Anybody? A Daniels article that changed your perception of the world? His five favorite books are Ayn Rand Action Comics, vols. 6-10. (He might as well said Jesus is his favorite philosopher, though the campaign's just getting started, folks.)

Let's leave aside the fact that "Libertarian intellectual" is a contradiction in terms; could we at least admit, in the spirit of toughening our educational standards across the board, that it's about as ridiculous as saying someone is a Traffic-flow intellectual, or a Cosmetics intellectual? Daniels has a pocketful of pre-packaged answers to everything, the way a pederast might have a pocketful of candy, but he certainly hasn't answered the major question, which is why those answers have led, over the past thirty years, to America becoming the world's most pitiful, impoverished Superpower.

[Incidentally, the Daniels Miracle has gone from Mantra, to Empty Mantra, to Meaningless Collection of Nonsense Syllables. Or make that "back to" meaningless nonsense; the state will soon begin paying interest and penalties on the $1.8 billion it's borrowed to cover unemployment benefits ("We're still better than Michigan!"), because it hasn't repaid the loan on time. $100 mil in interest, plus $21/worker in penalties, a penalty that doubles every year the loan goes unpaid. Candidate Daniels made hay out of the $200 million state budget "deficit" in 2004. Just for comparison's sake. (Actually, he made pork tenderloin sandwiches; he pounded the thing so thin it spread to $500 million, then $800 million, depending on who ordered it.) So Penny-Pinchin' Mitch seems to've been remarkably profligate with other people's money when it came time to preserve, or "preserve" the $billion surplus, or "$billion" "surplus" he was going to run for President on. Deadbeat Indiana is going to have to find $100 million next year to pay for Mitch Daniels' Presidential aspirations. Somebody alert Dean Broder.

And so it turns out that Daniels, like his idol St. Ronnie of the Shucks, has quadrupled the budget while claiming to fight it, the difference being that, so far as I recall, Reagan never tried to claim he'd miraculously shrunk the thing. But then Reagan was no intellectual.

And Daniels' answer to all this? The Next Republican Majority should forgive the debt, thereby increasing the Federal Deficit Which Threatens Our Very Way of Life. That's something. Not intellect, but something.]
The Hudson Institute gave a dinner honoring its former president, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, with the award named for its founding intellect, Herman Kahn.

The coveted "Mein Führer, I'm Too Vell-Fed To Valk!" Award.

[Incidentally, the Hudson Institute soaked up the government largess in the Hoosier state for twenty years, while all her citizens benefited from its particular brand of Bullshit Futurism as a Front for Corporate Rapine. This means I'm long since familiar with the legendary stories of Kahn's abiding affection for cabbies. It also means I've searched the streets for three decades trying to locate one he'd've fit in. Unsuccessfully.]
It was in every respect the opposite of the spectacle that came out of Nevada. There, Democrats and Republicans alike cringed as they watched their supposed champions mangle policy questions and personal exchanges in a fashion that would have been embarrassing for high school debaters. How did Nevada end up with two such inept candidates?

How? How? Say, just whose political reporting are you Dean of, anyway? How do we wind up with Sharon Angle vs. Harry Reid? Fuck, tell me how we ever wind up with anything even marginally better.

Tell me who eats this shit with a spoon, Dean, shingle and all, if not your profession? If not you. Who writes this sort of by-the-numbers dreck? The Daniels campaign is the desperation of a roomful of second-generation Nixonites and Reagan Privateers suddenly concerned, four decades later, about the roosting habits of the toothless inbreds they embraced for the sake of temporal political gain. How is it we miss that? And while we're feeling so intellectual an' all--again, I suppose it's a good thing that Irony died before she had to see the standard of Intellectualism! raised on the GOP barricades--maybe we could ask what these people have actually done for us in the sixty plus years since Nixon-Gahagan. Maybe we could ask how people with no morals got outflanked by people with no morals or brains, and why we should suppose that giving control back to the former would make a spit's worth of difference. Maybe we could ask why this den of thieves thinks fooling a Hoosier qualifies you for President.

Thursday, October 14

Readin', Ritin', Retrenchment

Sharon Otterman, "Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems". October 12

LISTEN, I admit that some of this is personal: I know how hard my Poor Wife works. I know how few people--including 99% of the sidewalk education reformers I come into contact with--could handle it for a week. I know what's happened to her, professionally, over the past two decades of our using schools as political soccer balls (and, particularly, with Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana, using the Separate but Unequal Not Exactly Indianapolis Public Schools as a punching bag): ceaseless churning of educational practices by local and state governments, megalomaniacal district superintendents and their fellow Education Leaders, and the education "establishment" they cow. Six years ago she spent most of her free time in the final two months of school, and all of her summer (unpaid) rewriting curriculum and planning new classes so Indianapolis Public Schools (and the School of Education at IUPUI) could rake in millions of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation largess for something called the Small Schools Initiative. IPS was the only major school district in the country to jump into the thing with both feet. All of the Foundation money went to the university, to administer the program, and to training administrators and teachers in how to run the program; in other words, it provided junkets for administrators and an extra work load for the people actually doing the educating. Not one dime ever made it to a classroom. Not one dime was every supposed to. It lasted two years, before being killed. Quietly, if you need to ask.

She has, in her career, seen Indianapolis Public Schools go from Junior High schools (7th and 8th grades) to Middle Schools (6th, 7th, and 8th, a combination only a blind sadist could have concocted), back to two-year schools, and on to integrating them into some high schools. (Isn't this how GM got to be where it is today?) Four changes in lesson plan procedure, which basically changed whose desk all those papers would sit on, unread; three complete overhauls of the online grading system, including the most recent, which prevents her from entering data from her own machine at home (because it's a Mac, and you know what sort of cross-platform compatibility problems we have in 2010) and, instead, forced a sweet technophobe and Luddite painter to learn whatever version of DOS the official system employs; and the Magnetification of half of IPS high schools, the granddaughter of School CHOICE (pick your school and we'll bus you there), daughter of that Small Schools Initiative and junior-middle-school Chinese fire drill, which, among other things, required my Poor seniority-laden, union featherbedding Wife to reapply for the job she already had, the one she'd just been named Teacher of the Year for doing, the one where by every objective standard you could apply she was one of the premier teachers in the state. Thank god they didn't require a PowerPoint presentation.

That's without mentioning how successive mayors of Indianapolis have been given the power to open Charters next to every Starbucks, or the three different procedures (In the Spring! No, in the Fall! No, in the Spring!) for the statewide, high-stakes ISTEP testing which grinds everything to a halt for two weeks every year, or the time the Indiana state legislature stripped the IPS union, and only the IPS union, of its collective bargaining rights, or the current threat that the Great State of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, Governor, Tony Bennett, Personal Anti-Union Educational Hatchet Man, will take over Indianapolis' "failing" public school system, and run it as well as it has the Family and Social Services Administration and the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission, those other major programs it cares so deeply about.

My wife teaches six classes in a seven-period day; that's one more than her contract permits, and she's been doing this for three years, because the school can't afford to hire the proper number of teachers. It's six different classes, not one class six times. She created a curriculum on the fly two years ago, because some idiot administrator (gotta stop repeating myself) offered a class the school didn't actually have. She took on a class last year that was created ten days after the year began. She's a mentor, official and unofficial, to her younger colleagues. She--not the entrepreneurs in the front office--is the one they call when they're going to be absent and haven't left a lesson plan for the substitute; she goes in early to see it's taken care of. She sponsored an after-school club last year despite having been told there was no money for it; when her Wobbly husband asked why, she said, "Because the kids want it." She's the one who arranges student shows, and generally the one who hangs and/or takes them down, because her colleagues have other things to do with their weekends. She mans booths at art fairs and such three or four times a year so that students can show their work. A few years back she got a Public Passenger Chauffeur's License with Special School Bus Cluster, because the district eliminated drivers for field trips and after-school events for a couple of years.

Her reward for this (Reader, do not get ahead of me!) is being treated like she was awarded a sinecure by some Borgia pope. Like she's a place-kicker one missed chip shot from being released. Like she should justify, every school year, maybe every grading period, having a job, let alone some small accrued benefits over some rookie know-it-all Ivie Teach for America boss-fucker with a two-year stint and $300,000 per administration post after in her crosshairs.

And--you may have heard--by being condemned because the century of second-class citizenship for African-Americans and their schools, if any, following three centuries of no citizenship at all (void where required by Apportionment), is now the fault of tenure in New York City schools.
But back home and out of the spotlight, Mr. Canada and his charter schools have struggled with the same difficulties faced by other urban schools, even as they outspend them. After a rocky start several years ago typical of many new schools, Mr. Canada’s two charter schools, featured as unqualified successes in “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” the new documentary, again hit choppy waters this summer, when New York State made its exams harder to pass.

A drop-off occurred, in spite of private donations that keep class sizes small, allow for an extended school day and an 11-month school year, and offer students incentives for good performance like trips to the Galápagos Islands or Disney World.

Y'know, I wonder if the drop-off was identical to the drop-off in climbing splits once the Tour de France started actually drug testing riders? I wonder if it's the same as the drop-off in 100m times between Ben Johnson setting the World Record, and Ben Johnson taking a urine test? I wonder if I could get a grant to check on this.
And the cost of its charter schools — around $16,000 per student in the classroom each year, as well as thousands of dollars in out-of-class spending — has raised questions about their utility as a nationwide model.

Raised questions? Really? I didn't hear Brian Williams ask Mr. Canada about it. I didn't hear Colbert ask That Guggenheim Fellow about the discrepancy, or where the money was supposed to come from while barking mad crowds complain about paying any taxes at all (Defense expenditures and personal benefits excepted). I don't recall Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, "Cufflinks" White, and a dozen of their cohort saying anything about doubling spending in that Post Op-Ed. In fact, I'm fucking waiting for someone to say it. I'm fucking waiting for The Mitch Daniels Education Miracle to announce we're raising educational expense by a third, except that will no longer include property and maintenance costs, and we're slashing teacher pay and benefits so we can put social workers and Registered Nurses in every classroom. Yup. Any day now.
In 2009, the Harlem Children’s Zone had assets of nearly $200 million, and the project’s operating budget this year is $84 million, two-thirds of it from private donations. Last month, the Goldman Sachs Foundation pledged $20 million toward constructing an additional school building. With two billionaires, Stanley Druckenmiller and Kenneth Langone, on the board, its access to capital is unusually strong.

In case you've forgotten, it was Ambrose Bierce who noted that if you steal a man's money and keep it, you're a thief, but if you steal his money and give 10% of it back you're a philanthropist.
The zone’s two charter schools are open to all city children by lottery. Officially, the schools spend, per student, $12,443 in public money and $3,482 in private financing each year. But that does not include the costs of a 4 p.m.-to-6 p.m. after-school program, rewards for student performance, a chef who prepares healthy meals, central administration and most building costs, and the students’ free health and dental care, which comes out of the zone’s overall budget, said Marty Lipp, the zone’s communications director.

I wonder if it includes the cost of psychiatric help for whomever put this on the HCZ website:
The budget for the HCZ Project for fiscal year 2010 is over $48 million, costing an average of $5,000 per child.

Again, I'm all for the work of the Harlem Children's Zone, regardless of that persistent feeling of being stabbed in the shorts; I'm all for fighting poverty. But not with a lottery, not by robbing the worst off to aid the bad off, not by giving Goldman Sachs a seat on the board, but by giving it an equitable tax bill that goes towards improving everyone's lot. Supposedly "we" decided thirty years ago that the Disney version of Entrepreneurship was the model for Everything. So when does this altruistic concern for the well-being of the impoverished actually touch the real engine of all this misery? Goldman Sachs has had a hundred and forty years to worry about the Poor. It doesn't need Geoffrey Canada's help. It doesn't have to pony up a few stolen dimes to a nonprofit to improve things; it could do so by paying an equitable amount of taxes and not gaming the fucking political system. And it--and we--don't need to help destroy what's left of trades unionism in this country just so a few children can show improvement on some dumbed-down test, given enough practice first.

Wednesday, October 13

That's Edu-tainment!

Ian Urbina and Sarah Wheaton,"Rhee, Washington Schools Chancellor, to Resign". October 13

GOODBYE, Failing DC Schools™, Hello AEI sinecure, Educational Consultant to NBC, and six-figure book deal; we'd like to see serial liar Rhee put her career where her lyin' lips have been, and sign up for seven years as a non-union teacher in a charter school. One which admits not just the identical depressed-socioeconomic-level students as its public school neighbors, filtered through parental interest, but the same percentage of learning and emotionally disabled, the same percentage of non-English speakers, and agrees to keep them there short of prison or death. Y'know, just like the real public schools do. (And good luck finding one.) Furthermore, we'd like to see her work her Education Miracle with hormonally-mazed eight graders, not 6 year-olds, on the grounds that that's the level where the US supposedly falls behind the rest of the world, also known as Scandinavia. We'd like to see her do it with independent observers there to make sure she isn't teaching to the test, and others making sure that Joel Klein isn't dumbing down the test itself. We wanna see her live on the income, make herself available 24/7 for student and parent calls, and have her pay cut at the whim of her boss, then be fired because she's accrued seniority. We still wouldn't believe her; that much is already settled. We just think it would be a good first step, like giving Eric Erickson and Jonah Goldberg fifteen-month hitches as forward artillery spotters, or putting a banker in prison for theft. You know: symbolic.

Comedy aside, why was Michelle Rhee's proboscis in the DC mayor's race in the first place? For the sake of the children? And having made that decision, and lost, how does she come to refuse to resign, as any half-honorable hack would've?

The first sports hero I ever chose for myself--I was a baseball fanatic from the cradle, but So's My Old Man--was the great Kansas miler Jim Ryan. He's the reason I became a track and field man. I've seen the start of the Indianapolis 500 from the pits. I saw Maris and Mantle hit back-to-back home runs in '61. My school was the last to win the NCAA Men's Basketball championship undefeated, and the Colts won a Super Bowl. And nothing has ever matched the excitement of just warming up in the infield before a dual meet, or hearing the breath go out of a guy as you passed him on the stretch of a quarter he though he had won. And there's not a record in the books now that isn't tainted, and all because nobody said anything while obvious cheats grabbed the glory. Just win, baby, and no thought for tomorrow. A whole generation of baseball stars won't be in the Hall. Lance Armstrong, who would've been a great and inspiring story, will instead be covered in chess for eternity. Just win.

And apparently no one under forty knows any different, and everyone over forty is too corrupt or conflicted to say anything. Joel Klein is a cheap political hatchet-man who either ran a con game or doesn't know one when he sees it; Michelle Rhee's accomplishments are writ in vapor. They're just the latest mouthpieces for a scam that's been going on since Brown, and which, in the past few decades, has found union-bashing more profitable than tightening the nuts and bolts of local educational systems. But they don't get called on it, even after the fact, even when they lose. We know teachers, or their unions, are not the problem with education; we know there's not a single problem to correct, or a single goal to reach; we know we couldn't reach it if there was. The whole thing's bullshit. It's not the first time somebody's tried to sell the stuff, but I'll be goddamned if I remember so many people being convinced they're eating Tootsie Rolls.

Anyway, so long, Michelle. I wish I could say Goodbye.

Tuesday, October 12

Towards A Unified Theory Of Cupidity And Stupidity

Ross Douthat, "Grading School Choice". October 10

David Brooks, "The Paralysis of the State". October 12

We Mostly Wanted To Try A Shorter David Brooks: If we didn't give state and municipal employees medical benefits, we could afford bridges and chunnels and skyways and all that other shit we don't need. And everyone left would have a HeliHummer. Except the Drones, of course.

Say, That Was Fun, Let's Try A Shorter Ross Douthat: The American Enterprise Institute and its Associated Mouthpieces would like to remind you that we never said Charter schools were any better than the public schools. If you can't tell propaganda from fact, blame your uncaring unionized public school teacher. Hey, here's a movie!

Maybe You Should Have That Blind Spot Looked At. By Someone Who Isn't Blind: Things are apparently now so dire for the Brooks-style Republican--that is, the sort which has to pretend it considers something more than winning elections, and so realizes we're speeding toward two more years of Republican Do Nothingism--that he's taken to bashing police pensions. Cops make $70,000 per! They can retire at 50!

Let us note here, again, how often it is that honorary Lt. Colonels such as Brooks demonstrate their complete unfamiliarity with anyone who's actually served in the US military. Where, for example, one may retire after twenty years (at 38!) with half pay, or stick it out for another ten (48! under 50!) for 75% pay. Plus low-cost health care at restricted facilities for yourself and your family, government guaranteed housing loans, and any number of benefit programs. You can get $36,000 for college for serving two years, or one, if you pay $100/month to get into the program. Do we begrudge them, Mr. Brooks? Or are we just keeping them on standby for when we need that Trans-Pacific tunnel built?

There are roughly 700,000 law enforcement officers working at the state or local level in this country. It's absolutely certain that a considerably higher percentage puts his or her life on the line, everyday, "defending our freedoms", than do the 2.5 million members of our military cartel, which requires 8 support troops for every soldier in the field. If your Magic Formula is so fucking Magic, why don't you apply it everywhere?

[No, I didn't forget. The Army's not unionized, right? And not likely to be? So I answered my own question. Okay, then, so we've got $47 billion in aircraft carriers floating around at this minute--that's using the Navy's figures, and their math isn't like land math; there are those who say the damned things cost more than twice as much--and $23 billion in the first of their ten replacements. That's just construction cost for the existing ships, and doesn't include the billions in development, the $300M in annual operating costs, the $2.5 B overhauls they all need, and the God Knows What it'll cost our grandchildren--won't someone think of the unborn?--to decommission the damned things starting twenty years from now, at two nuclear reactors each. Wanna name an international incident in the modern era which would have required as many as three? Wanna calculate the odds, then, of two such incidents happening simultaneously? That's but 60% of the fleet. And this is not Our Military Budget, Fifty Times That of Our Largest Potential Competitor. It's just the premier show-off piece for one branch, and its express function, almost from the time the Nimitz was built, is to cow tenth-rate military powers so we don't have to go around threatening to nuke a Hemisphere every time Coca-Cola doesn't get its way. In which, by the way, we are routinely thwarted by weapons which could have been manufactured for a high school science fair. In 1917.]

Ask AEI: Douthat acknowledges anti-public school propaganda; the intention is not to correct any false impressions, but to accrue credit for admitting Truth while simultaneously arguing that we pursue Error anyway. How much longer does this sort of shit get a free pass? Some AEI functionary says, "Wait a minute, let's not go overboard about Charter schools." He says this not as we're going overboard about Charter schools, but fifteen years late, after we've seen their results are nothing like what was being claimed around the time we all jumped into the deep. And just before some pop-culture wilting convinces everyone all over again that we should go overboard about Charter schools, thereby placing them dangerously near the point where they'll have no where left to hide.

So instead it's time for a little pre-lowering expectations. After all, Charters do somebody some good, and they're already paid for. And this is supposed to explain how Missing the Fucking Point is still a viable option. Because if Charters haven't performed substantially better than the public schools, and done so right out of the box, then the mistake isn't Charters. The mistake is your argument. Not the exaggerated one; the one you're making now.

[Here's a Tell, by the way, like you fucking need one when these arrogant assholes don't think they even have to hide the cards: Douthat:
[T]he jury is still out on whether either policy consistently raises academic performance.

Or, in other words, it doesn't.]

2+2: Even supposing this shit was unequivocal--by which I mean "unequivocal evidence for your argument", and not "unequivocal evidence of your cupidity", which it almost is, you're still full of it. Just because I feel an obligation to continue free education in this country doesn't mean I think the loudest assholes, the biggest vote-buyers, and Our Acknowledged Corporate Masters get to design the curriculum. Whether Microsoft can pick up its next generation of software pirates domestically is no concern of mine; maybe when you fucks start demanding as much from corporations as you do from ordinary citizens I'll sign on. It was somewhat amusing to see that Guggenheim fellow on Colbert the other day, pretending, one, that his movie didn't bash teachers and, two, that we have an obligation to fund public education as a training ground for the private sector, but the private sector has no obligation to hire Americans nor treat them fairly. At the end of the day, you can't--or won't--lift a finger to assure that the whole thing isn't in vain. I'm not sure how you sell this to any population qualified to judge someone else's eduation. And I know it's been said before, but it seems so apt: go fuck yourselves.

Monday, October 11


Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, and 14 other public liars including Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene "Cufflinks" White, "How to fix our schools: A manifesto by Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee and other education leaders". October 10

SURELY, Mr. Riley, that recourse to bold-face ad hominem is uncalled for, a cheap partisan shot aimed out Our Nation's Education Leaders. Well, no. It would've been a cheap partisan shot if I hadn't read the thing first, which, in the event, made no actual difference, as could've been predicted. Theirs is the cheap partisan shot, made for personal and political gain; when do these people say something surprising, something unexpected, something that doesn't sound rote? I feel the same inclination to apologize for any characterization I could possibly dream up that I do apologizing to Jonah Goldberg, Erick Erickson, Ben Shapiro, or that Atlas Juggs imbecile for their refusal to put their own meat on the line in defense of Civilization. If Education is such a vital, and disastrous, part of American life then it's too important to put your name on a piece of shit that wouldn't have earned a passing grade in a decent freshman logic course.

Just me? Here's a sentence from the thing. One might almost conclude it was, in fact, the key sentence. Now, I was educated in the public schools, so you tell me what it relies on besides prestidigitation.
So, where do we start? With the basics. As President Obama has emphasized, the single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents' income -- it is the quality of their teacher.

Preteritio Alert: let's forget that sixteen of Our Nation's Vaunted Educational Experts can't match an object with its number; believe me, I've seen plenty of Gene White's professional missives, and they argue against the importance of proper English, at least where becoming an overpaid Education Leader is concerned. In 1965 the Coleman Report to President Johnson identified economic class as the major predictor of future academic achievement. It's never been refuted. If you take a look at "Failing" schools in 2010, the thing they share is high percentages of students living in poverty. This is too well known for anyone to've become an Educational Leader without a thorough familiarity with it. It's certainly possible to disagree, but even on Mt. Olympus here, claiming the opposite as established fact has but one possible description: it's a Fucking Lie.

We know very clearly that it is a student's ZIP code, in that low-income households frequently are intellectually impoverished, do not hold academic achievement or intellectualism in high regard, and exacerbate the social negatives with bad nutrition and health care, unstable living conditions, and the thousand bad influences that surround the impoverished home. We know that it is skin color, the result of hundreds of years in which anyone darker than a paper bag could not be taught to read, or, even if things happened to be less draconian, could not enter into hundreds, or thousands, of professions were knowledge could be used, excepting maybe among "his" people.

We think people ought to be ashamed to put their names to such a thing. It's not that we don't think such an opinion can be honestly held--though it can't be honestly held without acknowledging the scoundrels who hide behind it--it's that it can't be honestly held while it's distilled into a Magic Formula. A magic formula which just happens to both line the pockets of its proponents and let them off the hook for failures.

Let's take the case with which I'm most familiar, that of Dr. Eugene "Cufflinks" White (if you'd rather, Somerby has repeatedly dealt with the serial prevaricator Rhee). White makes much, professionally, from the fact that he grew up in a dirt-poor, single-parent home in Jim Crow, Alabama, and was the first of his family to graduate from high school, let alone earn a college degree. White tends to minimize that his entree into higher ed was being 6'5" and able to hoop. We don't impugn it; plenty of B-ballers waste the educational opportunities of a scholarship. We'd just like to know what the 5'5" kid with no skillz is supposed to think.

After stints in Ft. Wayne and as an assistant at IPS, White was named superintendent of Washington Township schools, Indianapolis' best and wealthiest, where he became famous for his annual dragnet of African-American high school males, where he told them to behave less like Africans and more like Americans. This, of course, was wildly popular with white voters, as well as far too many black; occasionally the complaints of an African-American parent who found the exercise racist, demeaning, and probably unconstitutional--that is, of someone who saw it for what it was--made the papers, and was promptly denounced. It's still White's schtick today, in a district which is almost 60% black and 70% minority, though now he does a separate number for the girls, just to keep things balanced. Earlier this year he was overheard in one such using the phrase "act like niggers" ("using the N-word", in local media parlance, as though the negative magic of the term itself was more important than the attitude behind it, the one they didn't want to touch), which he then lied about when confronted. Gene White is not a very good liar.

This is the attitude, folks: the African-American middle-class Church Elder distain for those crazy cuttin'-up colored folk. It's an attitude which has no place in public education. And it's a particularly ironic one when the argument seems to be that our failing students aren't being given enough personal attention. By their lazy union teachers.

White's in his sixth school year as IPS superintendent. They've been marked by lots of trumpeting. He instituted a tougher dress code (after instituting a Task Force to come up with one, so he could remain insulated. He instituted year-round schedules at some poorly-performing schools, then lost a lawsuit when he simply ordered teachers to work the extra days without compensation. He's created a number of magnet schools. He made big noise at the beginning of this year about enforcing attendance; he then quietly informed the schools not to do so. The big plan there? Make teachers responsible for tracking down truants. Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself, and doesn't feel obligated to pay the people who do.

The results have been that Indianapolis Public Schools are the same Failure they were before he arrived. So now it's on to Year-Round School for everybody, meaning another CYA Task Force to fine-tune what has already been decided. And here's what I love about Education Reform, Leadership Style: the local teleprompter readers can't get enough of explaining how this solves the problem of students forgetting stuff over the summer. And, y'know, you may correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't most of our public schools operated on the Agrarian calendar since, oh, their inception? How is it Our Educational Leaders didn't already have an answer or two? Has this just become a problem in the last couple years?

In short, let us consider the source, here: Bloomberg's anti-union hit man, a self-promoting Teach for America groupie, and a convocation of urban Educational Leaders who find it easier, and more personally rewarding, to blame their underlings than accept responsibility.

In other words, this is Reagan Republicanism III: The Calcifying. The people who actually run things are somehow Perpetual Outsiders, plagued by an amorphous but omnipotent Marxism. Their pronouncements are to be taken as unqualified Truth, and as, inherently, True American Values. And yet, y'know, this is just the latest package design for an already tired product (granting that When In Doubt, Redesign the Package is the one authentic American Value for these people's America); the crappyness underneath is never examined, and never called to account. The meddlesomeness of the last decade, or the decade before that? Oh, you're talking about Old Education Leadership! See? New package. We haven't failed. That's unpossible. We're here to clean up Failure. SURGE!

It's remarkable, really: sixteen educational professionals, and not a doubt among 'em. It's everyone else's fault. Every last one of 'em believes that seniority systems are an unqualified evil, that the vast run of claims about Test Scores, with no antecedents, no rigor, no philosophical justification--and a track record of outright cheating, under, for example, Joel Klein--"prove" Failure, which in turn "proves" that Evil Union Teachers are negatively affecting student accomplishment. And that the answer--sitting down?--is superintendent and administration autonomy. Public liars and self-promoters hiding behind a national crisis of their own promotion. Well, you gotta admit: it worked for the Bush administration.

Friday, October 8

Nixon's The One! Reagan's The Beard!

TOO busy yesterday, but let's greet the day today with a mention of Somerby breaking in on the latest Brooks/Collins Conversation, that gimcrack in the Times apparently designed to prove, under the pretext of demonstrating that its Opinionists do not think about the things they write and have no more knowledge of current events than the average dental waiting room occupant, that combining a wishy-washy centrist "Liberal" and a so-called "moderate" "conservative" yields a particularly thin gruel.
“We!” Has Brooks ever dirtied his pretty pink hands inside the walls of a low-income school? Has he ever spent any time examining the real state of play of these institutions? Here at THE HOWLER, if we had to summarize the progress we’ve made in education over the last decade, we would mention the large score gains in reading and math recorded by black and Hispanic kids on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

Presumably, those score gains were pushed along by our teachers. Question: Does Brooks even know that these large score gains exist?

The other day Brave Indiana blogger Doug Masson talked about the difficulty of blogging about issues when no one seems to take any real interest in 'em. He's a young man, so I suppose this seems to him to be a near- or medium-term trend. (He's also a smart man, so I'm not suggesting he thinks this has happened in a vacuum.)

And I'm not going to reply Listen, sonny, I been around, and you don't know the half of it. For once. Because I really do believe there's been a flight from Meaning to the Redoubts of Emotion in the past few decades. But I think that amounts to people who formerly discussed Issues (and the sort of people who, a generation ago, would have been disposed to) being reduced to entrenchment because they can't win on an open field any longer.

And that's both long term and short term. The Right wants to fight fin de siecle Progressivism now, alongside its Hundred Years War on The Class Traitor Roosevelt, in part because it always has, and in part because it thinks it can get away with it now. Who Lost China? is now Who Wants Sharia Law?; Creationism begat Intelligent Design begat Teach the Controversy! without anyone ever confronting 19th century science, let alone 21st. Bobo Brooks thinks Teachers need to Learn How to Love; funny how he adopts that song-and-dance when it looks like his more hotheaded cousins might wind up responsible for doing something about the issue. Reagan hates the National Debt until his name goes on the account.

Such things travel in waves. I don't think we're experiencing a tsunami now so much as the popularizers of Politics have taken a page from the popularizers of Meteorological reports: exaggerating everything is a sure-fire ratings winner.

And since I'm old and richly endowed in crotchets, let me say that, on the beaches I comb, at least, the tide seems to be bringing in more Nixon artifacts, and less of the Reagan Miracle and Compulsive Optimism. Not enough, these days, that tax rates are historically low, Defense spending remains incontinent, and Democrats in full customary cower. Millions of our fellow citizens simply miss the paranoid rantings of a total lunatic. We've gone from Bill O'Reilly, Reagan without the PR affability, corporate shill, supremely confident (at least publicly) because he knows that hooks the Rubes while knowledge don't, to Glenn Beck, Nixon without the genius, but all the evil banality. The question for me isn't What Changed? but How They Keep Getting Away With It. It's not How We Got Here. It's Welcome Back. And maybe they all just need a big hug from Bobo Brooks.

Thursday, October 7


• Credit Where Credit Is Due: Bob Somerby, all this week, on education. There is sense being made in our educational "debate"; it's just not being made in our politics, or our newspapers, or on our teevees. And we repeat: Somerby has a blog. Kathleen Parker has a Pulitzer and a teevee show.

The only thing I can add is this: it's our debate on Education, supposedly driven by Our Utter Failure, and the goddam thing is stupid on the face of it. Say it again: if people really were this stupid we'd have hundreds of deaths from shaving accidents every morning, and half again as many babies dried off in microwaves. Not to mention that all these people would've died broke, because they gave all their money to the Sham-Wow! guy and the first company to break the Hundred Blades on a Razor barrier, once thought impossible.

• Partial Credit Where Partial Credit Is Due: Mitch Daniels fires David Lott Hardy, Esquire, his chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, in the aftermath of the revelation that Scott Storms, the Commission's erstwhile general council and chief administrative judge, was taking to Duke Energy about a job (one he eventually took) while he was overseeing cases involving Duke. Hardy knew about it and did not require Storms to recuse himself. For its part Duke has put Storms and its Indiana president Mike Reed (former IURC executive director) on paid administrative leave, apparently because it only became aware it had hired two IURC officials it had negotiated with while they worked for the state when the news hit the papers.

Why partial credit? Because Daniels has refused to vacate the Duke-related decisions Storms was involved in, instead ordering them to be reviewed, and his office announced the firing was a result of a "verbal report"--verbs being considered an inferior part of speech, I guess--and not a full internal review. On the plus side, Daniels does seem to have remembered the Governor's Personal Grand High Inquisitor the Republican-controlled legislature created for him in Aught Five, and which immediately set about looking for criminality in previous Democratic administrations. [So far, as I recall, anyway, they've found a lottery clerk who swiped some scratch-offs, and learned that the late Frank O'Bannon once got a haircut on company time. Meanwhile the billion-dollar Family and Social Services Administration fiasco, the Incredible Shrinking Major Moves Fund, and the thousands in unreturned Tim Durham contributions ("That money has already been spent") have been ruled, I believe the legal term is, none of your fucking business. You didn't think I'm letting that malignant toad off easy, did you?]

• Remedial Reading: I was at some pains at The Aptly Named World O' Crap to explain how it is the Big Gay Cupcake Scandal did not, in fact, involve cupcakes; curiouser things have followed. Briefly: woman calls a shop named Just Cookies to order some quantity of rainbow-iced cookies for Coming Out Day. Woman says that when Voice on the Phone (in fact, the owner) learned of the destination of said cookies, and Just Who might be licking his icing, he informed her of his moral objections, told her he had two daughters he was trying to Raise Right, and hung up on her. Complaints ensue.

Now if you happened to be a male of my approximate height watching Channel 8 "News" that evening, or the next, or whenever it is they latched onto the thing, you heard one of those Tales from the Teleprompter which have any number of elements resembling actual ("verbal") language, in which nouns were, and verbs did, but which had no connection to the way things behave in real life. And this was because the folks at 8 had decided to bend matters to the standard script, or else they've forgotten how to tell a story from beginning to end, probably from long disuse, the verbal equivalent of bedsores. Or maybe Honor has broken out among Public Christians. At any rate, they seemed bound and determined to convey that The Gays were Filing a Complaint because That's What All These Special Interests Do, even though it was a clear case of misunderstanding. Which is where the cupcakes came in: at one point we were informed that the store doesn't even sell cupcakes! And it doesn't do Special Orders, at least not often.

Oh, golly, there's that damn prickling in my thumbs again. So, first, you only have the idea that Special Interests and Sodomites get to file official complaints about every slight they encounter in life if you're a fat and satisfied semi-burgher living in the suburbs who never experiences anything like it. It seemed almost certain there was something more to the story; it seemed even more certain that the Wholly Logical Reasons why the order couldn't be filled ("Who orders cupcakes from Just Cookies? They were looking to cause trouble!") came direct from the shop owners post facto and might not have revealed the entire landscape of the event. It took me a couple days to discover the What in what had happened.

Seems a woman from the Social Justice Education Office at IUPUI had called to order rainbow cookies. And when the owner found out who they were for he explained to her that filling the order would prevent his young progeny from growing up as morally superior as he is, and hung up on her. The cupcakes are what they wound up ordering from another, less moral, bakery.

The shop rents space from the city-owned City Market; Mayor Gomer got involved, mostly because in 2012, or never, the city will be hosting Super Bowl XLVI: The Super Bowl That Might Not Happen, and its quarter-million LGBT spectators and participants.

Tony Dungy was unavailable for comment.

And the desperate weirdness continued when, last week, William Phillips, a Greenfield Police officer, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run motorist while on a bicycle training run. The accident occurred after midnight on US 40; the natural assumption was that the driver was drunk.

That turns out not to've been the case, apparently, but even before that was known the thing had taken on almost mythic proportions. At one point on Day Two I heard that police were looking for the driver who'd "killed the beloved father and husband". Ummm, tasty. Could I please have another trowel full?

Then came word, through the county prosecutor or the Greenfield PD--not exactly disinterested observers--that an attorney had contacted them, saying his client was ready to turn herself in. Much, if not all, Hell broke loose.

Apparently one, if not the major point the attorney was trying to negotiate was the avoidance of a media circus, something which should also be in the interest of law enforcement. Well, it didn't quite work. Tuesday evening, when it was widely expected that the woman was to show up for questioning, Channel 8 had a chopper overhead, and gave us five minutes of "a vehicle a man and woman had exited a half-hour ago. Of course, we don't know whether this is the woman, but…" Really. Why, to see inside we'd need some sort of infrared scanning device. So, let's turn it on.

Lemme just note here that as a long-time bicyclist I want nothing whatsoever to do with the roads anywhere from Gathering Dusk to Dawn's Mid-morning Light, and as little as possible to do with them otherwise. I ride a mostly-empty parking lot in bright sunshine and I'm still obsessive about knowing what's going on with every car on the lot and everyone on the street nearby. And I've almost been hit twice now. They say the officers were wearing safety clothing and were well-lit. But it's still and always the case that if you get into an altercation with a motorized vehicle, or even another bike, you're going to wind up the loser no matter who's at fault.

Some of the coverage--by Day Three the casual viewer might have imagined Phillips had died in a gun battle with Osama bin Laden, or that Hero was his middle name--seemed suspiciously designed to remove any questions about what he and other officers were doing training in such dangerous--and rather unrealistic--circumstances; Hendricks county does have motorized police vehicles with lights and sirens and two-way wrist radios, just like the civilized world, and these, presumably, are what they send out when someone needs to cover 12 or 15 miles in the dark. It worked. And some of the tone seemed designed to compensate for last-month's revelations about the drunken Indianapolis metro policeman who killed a stopped motorcyclist, and badly injured two others, while on duty. And the pent-up opprobrium for the driver abated only slightly when she turned out to be, not a Sterno bum with no license and a jacket the size of the phone book, but a middle-aged nurse who was driving her three children home from her parents house, who says she was distracted by the autistic one acting up. No record, unless you count the fifteen-year-old parking violation Channel 8 dug up.

And somebody had a poll the other day, asking if lawyers should be able to negotiate with police for their clients. 'Bout 80% against, as you might've guessed, unless you guessed 100. Seems like the News ought to be prohibited from encouraging public stupidity when it so obviously has a vested interest in perpetrating it.

Wednesday, October 6

But This Time, Baby, I Mean It

SO the President wants me--at least in so far as "Liberal" now means "anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman" in addition to its standard pejorative sense--to consider the alternatives.

Short answer: I wish there were some.

Slightly longer answer: So, it's come down to Who I Want Chairing The House Committee on Phone Answering at 3 AM? I wish Irony could have lived to see this.

Still longer answer, with implied "Motherfucker": It's what I've been doing since 1972, and, if I were four years older, since '68. I've been forced to find ways of surviving eight years of Nixon, eight years (plus reverb) of Reagan, and eight years of Bush II for the Inherent Promise of a moderate Democrat, another moderate Democrat, and you. What? Oh, this one's about Congress? Well, that's different, then. It's much worse.

The Democrats in Congress ran for the hills as soon as the last effective Democratic President, for Good or Ill--Lyndon Baines Johnson--ramrodded Civil Rights and Great Society legislation. It found enough courage, eventually, to mount a challenge to Vietnam, and impeach a criminal President. It seemed to totter for a brief moment in early 1981, considering whether to actually oppose Reagan or jump in and grab some personal profits before the Looting of America train left the station. Guess which one it chose?

Oh, right, I'm sorry; St. Ronnie's ideas were just go gawrsh-darn popular they couldn't be resisted. Because he was such an admirable communicator. Really sold us on the Grand Old Traditions of North American corporate privateering, Latin American death squads, and the Bottomless Cup O' Defense Contracting. That's why we haven't heard a peep from the Democrats in Congress for the last thirty years: Reagan's way with a quip.

That's why so many House Democrats, and a third of the Senate Caucus, lined up behind the Bush Tax Cuts even though he'd stolen the Pulpit it was delivered from just six months before. That's why they got maneuvered into voting Bush carte blanche in Iraq right before his first midterm election, on the grounds that otherwise they'd appear (Even) Weak(er) on Defense and Objectively Pro-Rape Room.

How'd that one work out? Not so bad for you; since you weren't there you got to use a streetcorner soapbox speech you'd made as your anti-Iraq War bona fides. Which convinced people, somehow, despite your record of voting for every Iraq War funding measure that crossed your desk; mind you, I'm not saying Democratic voters are blameless. But then, we're talking about Congress, right? So let's just recall the track record: Outmaneuvered, Cowed, Trounced in the Mid-terms Anyway. Given fresh majorities in 2006 ("Because the alternative was so much worse"), they put Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in charge and proceeded, shockingly, to accomplish nothing. In 2009, with a man in the White House who'd pledged his support for Single Payer, they proceed to dick around to make sure the insurance companies and pharmaceutical privateers had enough time to weigh in, before managing to eke out a victory for Water Added Ham, Sometime in the Near Future, So Long As That's Okay with Everybody. Because it was that or look like a bunch of Unprincipled Do-Nothings about to be clobbered in the midterms.

You stood on the sidelines, sir. Saving your legendary oratorical skills for a month before the midterms, evidently.

I'm sorry, but Just how is it you implied motherfuckers don't get it? Why couldn't you come out and say "It's not Liberal vs. Conservative. It's not Big Tax and Big Spend. It's about Common Fucking Sense vs. Being Lied To and Robbed Blind for the sake of Corporate Profits."? There never was such an opportunity, at least not since Franklin Roosevelt. And he took his. His picture's on the dime. Yours is on a thousand Joker and Bone-through-the-nose placards.

I can somewhat forgive the Clinton administration for being blindsided on national healthcare (though for failing to respond once it happened, not so much). You guys, on the other hand, had that history, plus fifteen years of skyrocketing costs and fifteen years of rapidly descending levels of care on your side. You had an election which offered a generational realignment of the political scene as grounds for making things happen. You're a fifty-year-old man with thirty years of 100% Guano Republican Insanity in your adult lifetime (which had followed fifteen years of Goldwater and Nixon) and you thought these guys could be reasoned with. Even after they pointedly and unanimously kicked you in the teeth just after the Inauguration. In the midst of a fucking national disaster. You're a bright man with a first-rate education; you've been outsmarted by John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and Sarah Palin, who don't combine to make a triple-digit IQ.

So now you think I should ride to the rescue, because they're so awful. And here's the thing: I'll be voting next month. I'll be enthusiastically pulling the level for the only African-American Muslim in the Congress, and the only Indiana representative who had the balls, and the safe district, to come out in favor of real health care reform. I'll be reluctantly voting for Blue Dog Brad Ellsworth to take Blue Dog Evan Bayh's seat (nothing you or anyone else could possibly have said would have gotten me to vote for that Time Bandit again), the way Ellsworth reluctantly voted for health care at the eleventh hour, and refuses to defend it in the face of his opponent's well-lubricated attacks. In a state you carried, historically, just twenty-three months ago. Call it force of habit; it's sure not loyalty to the cause. That I'll exhibit after the cause shows some loyalty to me. Hopeyness springs eternal.

And it sure as hell ain't Battered Spouse Syndrome, bub. I cringe when Republicans speak because of the shit they say. I'm not afraid of 'em, because I've seen the worst they can do. Repeatedly. And even if I were, I wouldn't run to a Democrat for protection.