Our World has Changed Forever and It’s Not Coming Back

On September 1, 2001 a gaggle of terrorists – at least one of whom spent his last night on Earth drinking demon run while ogling strippers – caught the early flight out of Portland , ME. The rest, as they say, is history.

When the dust settled George W. Bush grabbed a megaphone, climbed atop some rubble, threw his arm around a fireman, and gave a fiery speech about truth, justice, and the American way. The good ol’ boy fireman hug was a bit over-the-top, but otherwise it was the perfect thing to rally a country on edge and staring into a bottomless pit of C4.

It also marked the last time I agreed with just about anything he said and the last time there was any semblance of civility in the political process.

At the time, every pundit and politician talked about how the attacks were game-changers. The most oft-heard phrase was, “Our world has changed forever.”

That sure turned out a gross understatement.

Wobble-Kneed Don Knottses
Since the skeevy bastards drove the planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, America became – not the Greatest Generation of heroes and fidelity to high-minded principles – but a country of wobble-kneed Don Knotts impersonators grasping at any straw, enhanced interrogation technique, or abridged law to feel “safe”.

When the most unterrifying terrorist imaginable set his lap on fire, we cried out for the protection afforded by 3 oz. shampoo bottles and forbidden nail clippers – “watch out, I’ll clip you to within an inch of your pinkie finger’s quick”. And for good measure, we meekly stripped naked and suddenly thought it was perfectly reasonable to allow government agents to stick rectal probes up our asses to verify those things in our throats were tonsils and not miniature thermonuclear bombs…no doubt built in Iraq.

Our latter day lunatic fringe is terrified at the tyranny of affordable health care, yet makes not a peep over unrestricted wiretaps, error-prone no-fly lists, and a host of other insults to the Constitution.

The small government champeens somehow see a conglomeration of 380 million individual decision makers as an effective form of government. But, what about the biggest government behemoth of them all – the Department of Homeland Insecurity? For some, it and the Department of Defense are the only two allowable functions of a tyranny-free government, except for the Bureau of Who You Can’t Marry and the Anti-Abortion Administration.

Our twin 30-day cum 10-year wars grind up bodies and trillions of dollars that we aren’t really losing because they’re financed off-budget. Plus anyone the President chooses can be outsourced to some incredibly evil off shored prison to be beaten and waterboarded with impunity. Actually, you’d think they’d be all for affordable health care after all that.

America: The North American Banana Republic
Our current government is as stable as a South American Banana Republic that can’t agree on which sash and medals the President can wear with his faux flight suit and codpiece.

And, your average American Chicken Little believes the President is a Communist Kenyan, the moon landings took place in a Houston TV studio, and Bush personally killed bin Laden with the pearl-handled six-shooters confiscated from Saddam … or the Pentagon attack was staged… or bin Laden’s whereabouts have been known for years and Obama just saved the killshot for political points… or, well, you get the point.

Whether you vehemently oppose abortion, protest every capital death sentence, believe in euthanasia, or think Obamacare consists entirely of a Death Panel and hypodermic needle, chances are you see bin Laden’s killing as a richly deserved punishment for a cowardly, suburban-dwelling bully dressed in funny clothes and unable to get more than 10 feet from a dialysis machine. And, you’d be right.

Resolved: the man was a worthless piece of shit who didn’t deserve to live. Now, America can chant “USA… USA… USA!”and unite around something again. It’s a good thing that a brave team of our best warriors killed the man in cold blood – there is no question. However, the unity started to fray as the chants fell quiet. People are already arguing over every scrap of information or cockamamie fantasy they harbor. Pundits are pontificating and politicians are preening. In short, the nation is quickly reclaiming its false bravado and Don Knotts tremor.

Those folks were right nearly 11 years ago. The world will never be the same again because we’ve handed the terrorists a victory of continuous self-induced terror, exactly what terrorists want.

And, killing Osama doesn’t change that a whit.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

Parodies and the Public: Is Everyone so Gullible?

Fox Nation readers confuse Onion article with real news

I’m not really a pundit, I just play one on the web. And on occasion, commensurate with my faux punditly duties, I write a parody post. I may do this as a commitment to one of my core principles, “Scorn is mightier than ignorance”, or I might be bored or ready for a rant or just because I want to have a little fun – a pundit’s work is never done.

However, one of the consistent things about these parodies is that they always draw some proportion of people who actually believe them. One a few months back required me to add a disclaimer for fear open warfare would break out between the people who believed it was real and defended its “truth” and the people who believed it was real and tried to refudiate it.

Refudiate something that wasn’t true. Odd concept that.

Causing an Ideological War of the Worlds
I like to think I can sling a pithy narative as well as the next guy – certainly better than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh – but, I find it hard to believe that my parodies are so great and realistic I might accidentally cause some sort of an ideological War of the Worlds.

I used to be mildly pleased by this. Ha ha, look how I pulled the wool over their eyes! It made me feel superior in the same way watching Jerry Springer makes me feel superior. I may be a goob, but at least I’m not an uber-goob who takes DNA tests to prove which of the 37 trailer park coquettes he’s been banging carries his child (it turns out about 34).

But as I rack up my tally of rubes, I’ve begun to wonder about the wider implications.

Our national discourse has become so rancorous and full of outright lies and gross distortions, you can’t even make things up anymore. People actually believed my  piece on the affair between Suzanne Malveaux and George Bush. Ditto my recent piece covering the Tea Party’s outrage over Obama pardoning Thanksgiving terror turkeys.

This may explain the popularity of  The Daily Show or Stephen Colbert‘s testimony to Congress. We know people watch those shows for their news, but the assumption that viewers understand they’re seeing imaginary news may be too broad.

The REAL Thanksgiving
Even when people watch mainstream news outlets like Fox, their common sense takes a powder. As I write this, Rush Limbaugh is pontificating on how the Indians scammed us on Manhattan and the pilgrims failed because they were socialists, a view supported by an honest to God US Congressman.

There was a day when that would’ve caused most people to shake their heads and think, “DAMN, there are a lot of imbeciles.” These days it draws a yawn, and in a truly troubling number of cases, more people who believe the blatant fantasies.

One of the core principles of the Founding Fathers was that of a well informed electorate. For example, believing horses could talk would at least cause the Founders to question your critical thinking skills. Today, pro-horse talking and anti-horse talking factions would form, there would be rancorous debate, and new laws enacted that both forbade and supported talking horses as a dozen different talking horse lobbies demanded.

We may have become too stupid and gullible to vote, particularly when the people we vote into office think the pilgrims failed because they were socialists. I’m tempted to write a parody about this, but it’s impossible.

There’s not enough believable reality left to craft a decent faux reality.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

You Know You Might Be a Liberal If…

Note: Turnabout is fair play, so enjoy this companion post to last week’s You Know You Might Be a Tea Partier If… And moderates, your turn will come soon too.

You know you might be a liberal if you:

  • Make protest signs with perfect grammar and spelling, but that quote Camus…in the original French.
  • You’re willing to fight an uphill election battle, but no one understands your commercials.
  • Think of your party’s Big Tent as a canopy for a reception party after a gay wedding.
  • Refer to George W. Bush as the Anti-Christ, but are incensed when the right calls Obama The Messiah™.
  • Protest horrible work conditions for migrant farm workers, hotel maids, and Chinese prison labor…by throwing a $500 per head cheese and wine tasting.
  • Advocate for homeless rights…provided they don’t live in your neighborhood.
  • Want environmental protections for every species on Earth…except those icky bugs and snakes.
  • Drive to a protest about shipping jobs overseas in your BMW.
  • Have a secret desire to be black, but are ashamed that it comes from your mother teaching you they’re terrific dancers.
  • Think Native American lands should be returned to their original owners while forgetting your house stands on what was once a sacred burial site.
  • You don’t own a single American flag pin.
  • Think Keith Olbermann is the only “fair and balanced” newser on TV.
  • Think gun ownership should be forbidden, including all weaponry used by the Armed Forces.
  • Vacation in every foreign nation under the sun, but have never traveled to an adjacent state.
  • Get pissed because Republicans refer to it as the Democrat party instead of the Democratic party.
  • Spell “the” as “teh”.
  • Believe the First Amendment guarantees everyone’s right to free expression, but think “hate speech” a should be illegal.
  • Believe that foreign despots will go away if you ask nicely.
  • Want to declare war on Christmas.
  • Are in favor of building the Ground Zero mosque while arguing with the local planning commission over the amount of traffic the new church being built in your neighborhood will generate.
  • Think of Talking Points Memo as a legitimate news outlet.
  • Don’t grasp why unredacted CIA intelligence isn’t printed in the newspaper every day.
  • Believe you’re an “honorary lesbian” because of that little one-night stand you had while drunk in college.
  • Believe that little one-night stand you had while drunk in college was “fun”, but you’d never do it again in a million years.
  • Want to ban sugar, salt, and fat from foods, but eat bacon-wrapped hors d’ouvers and drink rum and Cokes at your neighbor’s party.
  • Think black-on-black crime is caused entirely by white people.
  • Think everyone in the Midwest is some sort of inbred goob even though you’ve never met anyone outside the Washington, DC metro area.
  • Decry Republicans playing politics while grousing about Obama’s tepid response to criticism.
  • Think Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are qualified to talk about anything having to do with African Americans.
  • Think anyone to the left of Ed Schultz is a crazed wing nut.
  • Really hate it when people don’t refer to liberals as progressives.
  • Think banning all oil drilling by 2011 is the solution to America’s energy problems.
  • Protest human rights violations in Chad without being able to find it on a map.
  • Oppose the death penalty, but also protest the poor conditions in the nation’s prisons.
  • Claim to have lots of gay and black friends, but can’t remember their names when someone asks…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • Support awarding huge damage claims to people who’ve smoked 3 packs a day despite the fact they’ve known smoking is a deadly for their entire adult lives.
  • Believe that Republicans lie and Democrats have inconvenient truths.
  • Complain about the condition of America’s educational system while sending your own kids to private school.
  • Think all Republicans are corrupt and hypocritical.
  • Think Bill Clinton was impeached for a BJ instead of lying to a grand jury.
  • Think Michelle Malkin is cute enough to sleep with, but would never tell anyone because of her politics.
  • Feel inferior if you don’t have a master’s degree.
  • Protest the efforts to repeal the 14th Amendment, but are still pissed that the Equal Rights Amendment didn’t pass.
  • Believe that donating an hour per week teaching an inner city kid how to read is intrinsically more valuable than a wealthy person donating $1000 to the literacy program.
  • Hate being called a socialist.
  • Are a vegan, but hate the taste of tofu.
  • Drink soy milk in your $6 cup of coffee.
  • Think DADT is the biggest problem facing the nation today.
  • Believe Nancy Pelosi is the greatest Speaker in the history of the House.
  • Believe that only white people can be racist.
  • Don’t understand why the Ground Zero mosque is a touchy subject for some people.
  • Decry the loss of newspapers and magazines, but own 4 Kindles.
  • You find this post as funny as You Know You Might Be a Tea Partier If…

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

President Obama Reframes Stem Cell Research As He Lifts Bush's Ban

This morning, President Obama reversed Bush's ban on federal funding of stem cell research. The order allows for taxpayer money to be used to fund research on any stem cell lines created after Bush's August 2001 order. It does not, however address a separate ban precluding the government from funding the development of stem cell lines. Obama has left that up to congress to address.

During his remarks at the ceremony (TPM has them HERE), President Obama did three really important things. First, he slammed the Bush administration repeatedly for its war on science and promised to usher in a new era of government-supported scientific inquiry. Notice how he appeals to Americans' nationalism, a decidedly right-wing appeal.

Today, with the Executive Order I am about to sign, we will bring the change that so many scientists and researchers; doctors and innovators; patients and loved ones have hoped for, and fought for, these past eight years: we will lift the ban on federal funding for promising embryonic stem cell research. We will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research. And we will aim for America to lead the world in the discoveries it one day may yield. [...]

This Order is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America. But let's be clear: promoting science isn't just about providing resources - it is also about protecting free and open inquiry. It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient - especially when it's inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda - and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.

By doing this, we will ensure America's continued global leadership in scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs. That is essential not only for our economic prosperity, but for the progress of all humanity.

Obama also advanced the idea of the importance of government intervention in medical research, again appealing to a sort of nationalistic pride:

Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident. They result from painstaking and costly research - from years of lonely trial and error, much of which never bears fruit - and from a government willing to support that work. From life-saving vaccines, to pioneering cancer treatments, to the sequencing of the human genome - that is the story of scientific progress in America. When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored. Some of our best scientists leave for other countries that will sponsor their work. And those countries may surge ahead of ours in the advances that transform our lives.

And finally, Obama also addressed the false choice the right has set up between science and religious faith. The idea that the two are mutually exclusive is at the heart of right-wing arguments on anything from evolution to abortion to stem cell research and has contributed to the idea that liberals are anti-religion. Obama ripped this argument to shreds by reframing the funding of stem cell research as a moral imperative.

But in recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values. In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering. I believe we have been given the capacity and will to pursue this research - and the humanity and conscience to do so responsibly.

To paraphrase Rachel Maddow, the president praising science and the role of government in medical research? I hardly recognize my government anymore.

There's more...

Bush A Dirty Word At CPAC

This Politico article is pretty funny. Certainly gives you a sense of the sort of legacy Bush has left behind: even the folks who swore by him for 8 years want nothing to do with him. Keep in mind when reading this that Bush addressed CPAC every year of his presidency.

...if there's one thing those attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference this week agree on, it is this: They don't want another George W. Bush.

Few come out right out and say it, but they don't have to. There's no nostalgia for the past eight years, no tributes to Bush and no sessions dedicated to exploring his presidency.

Indeed, for a president who publicly embraced conservative principles, there is little evidence that the movement returns the sentiment.

The disdain for Bush, particularly of his profligate spending habits, is fueling a new talking point that Obama is just a continuation of Bush. Right.

Conservative icon Newt Gingrich, the former House Speaker, railed against the "Bush-Obama continuity in economic policy" and the "Bush-Obama big spending program" in a speech Friday.

"We had big spending under Bush and now we have big spending under Obama," Gingrich said. "And so now we have two failures."

Throwing Bush under the bus isn't really new. Conservatives have been spitting up the Bush Kool-Aid since 2005 when the left's consensus about Bush -- i..e epic FAIL -- began to become THE consensus. I mean, c'mon, they couldn't have a failed president be a conservative president; that would mean conservatism itself would have failed.

Exactly.

The fact is, Bush's failure WAS the failure of the conservative movement, not an aberration from it. Cronyism over competence, enriching the private sector while starving the public sector, redistributing wealth upwards, it's all precisely what they've been working toward for 30 years. Believing otherwise is just the latest in a long string of conservative delusions.

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