Because the old thread is long and growing tired.
Pancakes for breakfast! Who’s got a great recipe / cooking technique / reminiscence?
Anne Laurie has been a Balloon Juice writer since 2009.
Because the old thread is long and growing tired.
Pancakes for breakfast! Who’s got a great recipe / cooking technique / reminiscence?
Latoya Peterson at Jezebel has the best concise explanation I’ve seen of the Great FOX News ACORN Scandal. She finds five key questions, and answers them, with an efficiency I can only wish the “established, professional” Media Village Idiots would use more often:
What does ACORN do?
Why did they come up in the 2008 election?
What’s happening with the current controversy?
Where have we seen James O’Keefe before?
What are the mitigating/aggravating factors here?
The comments are well worth reading, too. A number of people discuss their own history with ACORN, stressing the fact that a network of 1200 separate offices with a policy of hiring from the low-income neighborhoods they support, and the usual non-profit-organization tendency to underpay and overwork its staff, will inevitably offer a few soft targets for a right-wing Borat wanna-be with an unlimited budget and no more edifying hobbies to distract him. Since I, unlike Ms. Peterson, am not trying to be scrupulously unbiased, there was one comment I particularly enjoyed:
[T]here are two other “not-malice” possibilities that come to mind as well. 1) As has been pointed out, obvious real-life trolls were obvious and she was fucking with them. 2) When you work in community service in low-income and underprivileged communities, you are often helping people with various mental health problems and people who are just… off. You don’t want to just outright dismiss them, you want to welcome them and accept them, and you kind of develop an attitude of “let’s just hear this guy out.” You can wind up “hearing out” some genuinely messed up and terrible people, because you just kind of get used to folks coming in with very, very, very weird and sketchy claims.
I’m sure Mr. O’Keefe would appreciate the irony that he might just have been mistaken for a genuinely brain-damaged petty criminal looking for a sympathetic audience…
Until John gets around to posting pet pictures, and/or Bad Horse Filly’s “Menu for the Weekend.”
*** Update ***
Thanks, Anne Laurie. I forgot, yet again. The menu:
Seared Ginger Tuna Rice
Tossed Salad Sliced
Apples w/Caramel dipping sauce
And the cute:
Cathleen Schine, whose novel The New Yorkers was a perceptive window into the difference between a person and a-person-who-lives-with-a-dog, reviews INSIDE OF A DOG: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know for the New York Times:
Dogs are, says Horowitz, “creatures of the nose.” To help us grasp the magnitude of the difference between the human and the canine olfactory umwelts, she details not only the physical makeup of a dog nose (a beagle nose has 300 million receptor sites, for example, compared with a human being’s six million), but also the mechanics of the canine snout. People have to exhale before we can inhale new air. Dogs do not. They breath in, then their nostrils quiver and pull the air deeper into the nose as well as out through side slits. Specialized photography reveals that the breeze generated by dog exhalation helps to pull more new scent in. In this way, dogs not only hold more scent in at once than we can, but also continuously refresh what they smell, without interruption, the way humans can keep “shifting their gaze to get another look.”
Dogs do not just detect odors better than we can. This sniffing “gaze” also gives them a very different experience of the world than our visual one gives us. One of Horowitz’s most startling insights, for me, was how even a dog’s sense of time differs from ours. For dogs, “smell tells time,” she writes. “Perspective, scale and distance are, after a fashion, in olfaction — but olfaction is fleeting. . . . Odors are less strong over time, so strength indicates newness; weakness, age. The future is smelled on the breeze that brings air from the place you’re headed.” While we mainly look at the present, the dog’s “olfactory window” onto the present is wider than our visual window, “including not just the scene currently happening, but also a snatch of the just-happened and the up-ahead. The present has a shadow of the past and a ring of the future about it.”
When I got my first dog, specifically because I wanted a partner for AKC obedience training, my friends in science-fiction fandom wondered why I’d choose such a demanding and un-nerdly hobby. But the fascinating thing about dealing with dogs, for me, is that it’s as close as I’ll probably ever get to an ongoing, two-way, working communion with a non-human intelligence*. The fact that so much of the First Contact conversation is going to involve (non-verbal) dialogue like “Huh? LOLwhut?” or “Nope, don’t feel like doing that right now, get back to me later” or “Nag, nag, nag — why is this relationship never about MY needs? ! ?” is no doubt a salutary reminder about the fictitiousness of science fiction.
*(Cats are willing to deal with people, at least their personal people, but dogs have a much more human-like “need” to work out an explicit vocabulary with the animals they live with. In my experience, a cat can share a household for years with a person or even another cat without acknowledging the other’s existence; a dog living with a person or a cat who is “not a dog person” will never give up trying to make a connection, even after multiple attempts prove that any interactions are going to be unpleasant or painful.)
Today Alex Pareene is my hero:
On 9/12, people in New York (and DC) did not feel as “great” as Glenn Beck. They just felt like shit. They felt scared and confused and depressed… And only an idiot or an actual terrorist would want to always feel like it was 9/12/01. And eight years later, normal people, with brains and souls, have decided that some emotional distance from that disaster is healthier and wiser than trying to recapture the dread.
So thank fucking christ that the Commander in Chief is no longer subjecting the nation to death porn.
No, this year it’s limited to a nutty little cult leader on basic cable who is encouraging his radicalized band of fanatical followers to invade the cities where the tragedy actually happened in order to shock the populace back into fear.
Glenn Beck is an actual terrorist, and the people attending his rally in DC tomorrow are al-Qaeda in America.
“I have not the least expectation that the plan will be adopted. In South Carolina there is less enterprise, less public spirit, than in any other state; and that, Heaven knows, reduces it low enough.”
Theodosia Burr* was writing (to her father) about prison reform, not health care reform, and there were fewer states in 1808, but it would seem that certain proud Sothrun traditions change slowly if at all.
Although, if you’re feeling indignant enough, here is a site where you can contribute to Wrong Joe Wilson’s opponent.
As for last night’s speech, it should always be remembered: President Obama started his career as a community organizer. Which means he is used to (and most excellently skilled at) running an organization by “working for consensus”, a set of skills quite different from the ones needed for running the more usual top-down business/military/GOP organizations. In an authoritarian organization, for better or worse, at the end of the day what the Big Kahuna says goes is what goes. Even if he’s the best, most open-minded Big Kahuna in the universe, heading up a team of uniquely gifted & prickly talents – he can ask for input, he can get input he hasn’t asked for, but when hammer meets nail it’s the Big Kahuna’s hammer that gets to choose the nail. And the other members of the team are always aware of this reality; barring things get so bad that grenades get rolled into the colonel’s tent, no private in the army forgets for long that the colonel is the one setting the agenda.
In a consensus-driven organization, on the other hand, everybody must have a chance to give an opinion… even when their opinion is stupid, crazy, laughable, and wrong. Being a successful community organizer means knowing that the local Mr. Tinfoil or Ms. Crystal-Bunny will show up at every godsdamned meeting and waste everybody else’s time ranting about black helicopters or the necessity for regular high colonics. A large part of the job of being a successful community organizer is ensuring that the resident nutball gets a respectful hearing without being permitted to permanently derail the meeting. Because, sad as it may seem, the rest of us skittish flaky primates want to know (even when we don’t articulate it) that “our guy” will take our ideas seriously, even when we’re not sure our ideas are worth taking seriously. When Obama stands up before Congress and explains that his health care reform proposals will involve neither death panels or government-paid abortions (unfortunately, IMO), he is reassuring the 80% of his audience who have no strong feelings about either topic that he will, at another time, be open to their opinions, however formless and/or gormless. This is important, even when it means that the meetings keep running into overtime and that us sane people have to listen to an awful lot of extremely random crap.
After eight years of the Cheney Regency’s “My way or the Gitmo highway” authoritarianism, anything less forceful than sloganeering and explicit threats seems like pretty weak sauce to those of us who’ve been paying attention. The question, of course, is whether President Obama’s target audience — the vast quivering voting-eligible majority that isn’t ideologically wed to either Invisible-Hand-of-the-Marketplace-Uber-Alles or Medicare-for-All-Americans-Immediately — considers his speech, and his administration’s work over the next few weeks and months, as sensible compromise or timid obfuscation. Perhaps we’d get better proposals and a more useful final bill if President Obama would channel his Inner Authoritarian a little more, but his gift for seeking consensus seems to be why Obama is President and certain other people are not. Maybe all the histronics are simply a necessary part of the process of committing democracy.
*Nancy Isenberg, FALLEN FOUNDER: The Life of Aaron Burr (2007) ISBN 978-0-14-311371-3
Our new foster papillon “Gloria” got turfed from her last home because she made the dog-logical mistake of attacking their tiny, elderly Queen Bee girl dog. In the three-days-and-counting she’s been here with us, Gloria has given our elderly, imperious (and much larger, tho still smaller than Gloria) Princess Buta-Hime-Sama a very wide berth, even while scrumming cautiously with our two boy dogs. This is good news for readers of the Media Village Courtiers, because it proves that a born lapdog can learn from its mistakes, given sufficient impetus.
On the other hand, Gloria doesn’t drink out of the toilet bowl, even though she’s physically capable of doing so (and let me state for the record that when I fell in love with papillons, I never expected to meet one tall enough to achieve this). So it’s possible that she’s just got more naturally discerning tastes than Dean Broder, Dick Cohen, or David Brooks…
Via Scientific American, a behavioral ecologist and a psychiatrist suggest that a major depressive incident may make people better able to solve complex problems and social dilemmas :
Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else. Numerous studies have also shown that this thinking style is often highly analytical. They dwell on a complex problem, breaking it down into smaller components, which are considered one at a time.
This analytical style of thought, of course, can be very productive. Each component is not as difficult, so the problem becomes more tractable. Indeed, when you are faced with a difficult problem, such as a math problem, feeling depressed is often a useful response that may help you analyze and solve it. For instance, in some of our research, we have found evidence that people who get more depressed while they are working on complex problems in an intelligence test tend to score higher on the test.
During my scholastic career, I frequently got depressed when attempting to work math problems (took basic high school algebra three times and still don’t understand it). I’d stare at the paper until the numbers started dancing, ruminating on the problem until I reached the correct solution: “That’s it; I am sooo fvcked.”
Then I’d throw up.
Which totally makes sense now, because of course serotonin function affects the gastrointestional tract as well as that lump at the top of the spinal column.
For a progressive and a sentimentalist, one of the advantages of living in the Boston television market has been its coverage of Senator Kennedy’s last public appearance. He was one of ours, and he did a lot of good for a lot of individuals and families here, apart from his many services to the welfare of all Americans. I’ve been glad to sniffle through many an anecdote from the people who came to witness the hearse carry Teddy’s casket from Hyannisport, through Boston’s Government Center and the North End streets where he first politicked, to lie in state at his brother’s JFK Library in Dorchester.
People like the couple whose son was killed in Iraq, and Kennedy not only sent a note of condolence, he found out the soldier’s father was having problems obtaining his citizenship — problems that magically disappeared within two weeks of Kennedy’s intervention. And when the couple started a scholarship fund to honor their son’s memory, Teddy sent a personal check. People like the Republican parents whose son’s last words from Iraq lamented the lack of decent body armour; they contacted Kennedy “despite our doubts” and the Senator successfully fought to change the Pentagon rules protecting Blackwater and its private-contractor ilk by denying civilian donations toward ‘non-approved’ equipment. “Teddy did more for us than any of the senators we contacted who voted for the war,” they said.
People like the 9/11 widow who’ll be standing with the Kennedy family overnight, at the coffin wake. It wasn’t just that he contacted her and the other families immediately, she said, or the “dozens of little things, stuff that was only important to us” that he’d done in the years since. “He walked me through those first terrible days, taught me how it was possible to go on, when I thought I would never get through it… He told me I could, and I knew I could trust him, because he’d had to — he’d done it himself.”
And then I made the mistake of looking at Andrew Sullivan’s blog, hosting the smug and disingenuous Hanna Rosin, whose back-handed ‘tribute’ to Teddy’s public service went beyond the usual Wingnut Welfare Wurlitzer “Chappaquiddick today, Chappaquiddick tomorrow, Chappaquiddick forever” sniping to “the bigger problem of the Kennedy women”:
“If they were lucky, like Eunice Kennedy Shriver, they managed to install themselves at the head of virtuous nonprofits—“charities,” we used to call them.” — Goodbye, Kennedy Women, Double X, August 26
Rosin is treating Eunice Kennedy Shriver the way she laments Joe Kennedy did — as a mannequin, a non-person whose highest ambition was to worm its way into a figurehead position. This is a grave and willful misunderstanding, which denigrates not only Mrs. Kennedy Shriver’s lifetime of hard work, but the worth of the Special Olympics and the Special Olympians.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver was not “lucky”, she was brave.
She worked just as hard and as long for her “virtuous nonprofit” as Teddy did in the Senate, starting in 1961 when she pressured her brother Jack into authorizing The President’s Committee on Mental Retardation, which developed into what is now Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development within the NIH. She was supposed to be another Barbara Bush, someone who’d be content supervising an appropriately large brood of future (male) politicians, a Junior League matron breaking her “fiercely competitive” golf and tennis matches at the country club with martini-and-cigarette lunches. But while she never challenged her father’s fierce chauvinism to the extent of pursuing political office herself, she never forgot how her older sister Rosemary had been traumatized, locked away, and lobotomized in a misguided attempt to “protect her from herself” — and to protect her family from the stigma of having produced a mental defective.
Over the last twenty years or so, there’s developed a certain willed historical oblivion over just how hard it was to be, or to bear, a “retarded” child in America in the 1960s. The unchallenged Social Eugenics bias taught in schools of medicine & social work since the 1890s mandated that the “best” treatment for such “defective” children was institutionalization, where the little unfortunates and their families would be protected from the stigma and social opprobrium natural to their pitiable condition. And since there was no hope of a cure, or even a meaningful life for the young victims, the diagnostic lines between “mongoloidism”, organic brain damage, autism, epilepsy, and even cerebral palsy were blurred — if the child was going to be warehoused until it died, hopefully before wasting too much of its family’s or the states resources, how much did an exact label matter? Things hadn’t progressed much since Jane Austen wrote of a family (much like her own) that “had the bad fortune to have a very stupid, troublesome son, and the good fortune to lose him before his twentieth year.” I was born in the mid-1950s, and I can remember the ladies in my blue-collar Irish-American parish discussing whether it was “fair” for Eunice to keep dragging up the “old scandal” of Rosemary’s tragedy — because it risked damaging the political & marital chances not only of Eunice’s own children, but of the Irish-Catholic tribe in general. I know people of my generation who were never permitted to meet, or sometimes even to know about, their “imperfect” siblings until another family crisis unveiled their existence. Just as adoptive parents were warned never to reveal that their child wasn’t “really” theirs, the parents of “defective” children were advised, “Put it in an institution. Tell the neighbors it died. It wouldn’t be fair to your other children, if you try to provide all the extra care and expense it’ll need.”
People today occasionally wonder, or complain, that “When I was growing up, there didn’t used to be so many special needs kids in every neighborhood.” Of course they don’t always use the polite “special needs”, because that phrase didn’t really exist a generation ago. There didn’t “used to be” so much mention of racist privilege or sexual harrassment or domestic violence, either — not because it didn’t exist, but because the concepts were so much an accepted part of everyday life that “we” didn’t have the words to describe them, even if we wanted or needed to. Changing the world to require, and accept, such a new vocabulary was a lifetime’s hard work for many, many people, a few of whom were powerful enough and prominent enough that we remember their names when honoring the work of all their unheralded fellows. Eunice Kennedy Shriver, despite Hanna Rosin’s attempt to reduce her, was never just a ‘Lady Bountiful presiding over an afternoon’s diversion for the little retards.’ She spent her life working hard, and encouraging (demanding) thousands of others to work just as hard, to give the forgotten and powerless a little more space in the world. And it is for her hard work and by the success she won, not for herself but for 3,000,000-and-counting people she never met, that she will be remembered. At its best, this was the real “Kennedy luck” — not that they were born rich and lived privileged, but that Teddy, Eunice, Jack, Bobby, and the rest of the clan sought out the hard work that would make a real difference in the world.
Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (D) has died at the age of 77, after 46 years of service in Congress.
He had the good luck to be born into a wealthy and powerful American family, and the bad luck to be born the ‘caboose kid’ in an Irish-American family that imbued its every member with an outsized drive for success at all costs. The old man never let his older brothers Jack and Bobby forget that they’d never measure up to their eldest brother, Joe Jr, his martyred WWII flying ace; the rest of us never let Teddy forget that he’d never measure up to Jack and Bobby, our martyred political heroes. He inherited an orphanage full of traumatized nephews and nieces, the suspicion that his every success would owe more to sentimental nepotism than his own labor, and the undying resentment of every kleptocrat, paleoconservative, and Nixon-spawned ‘Reagan Republican’ bent on turning America into their version of a banana republic.
He survived in the Senate, for eight terms and counting, because he was renowned for his scrupulous adherence to the all-politics-is-local wisdom of “constituent service”. Even his fierciest local critics, the Chappaquiddick Chorus, admit that Kennedy’s office would go the extra mile to untangle the red tape obstructing every missing Social Security check or family-member visa petition. But he earned his “Lion of the Senate” title by fighting to ensure that every American could enjoy some basic level of human dignity, even those without access to a Senator of power and influence.
When his fatal illness was announced last year, a lot of the professional cynics in the “mainstream” media were shocked at how many people, of all political affiliations and income levels, had been touched by Teddy’s kindness while their loved ones were undergoing treatment in Boston’s great medical institutions. Going back to the early 1970s, when his son lost a leg and almost lost his life to bone cancer, it seems that Teddy had done a thousand small kindness for the families of cancer patients, especially pediatric patients — visiting devasted parents and terrified children, arranging special daytrips, setting his staff to battle recalcitrant insurance companies for the benefit of people who’d never have the chance to vote for him, under circumstances where no favorable publicity would accrue to him. The man did some terrible and many very stupid things in his life, but he also spent half a century in service, public and private, as atonement.
The glee of Senator Kennedy’s enemies and ours will be unbounded over the next few days. I’m sure the birfers, astroturfers, industry shills, talibangelicals, Blue Dog DINOs, glibertarians, neocons, and general malefactors of great wealth will weep crocodile tears as they lament that Teddy’s death should not be used as an opportunity by crass liberals to pass the kind of serious health care reform he spent the last thirty years championing. And that, my friends and President Obama, is why it’s time to come back after Labor Day with a single coherent Senator Edward M. Kennedy Health Care Reform Bill, and to twist whatever arms, ears, or other parts are necessary to get a good strong comprehensive bill passed and signed, NOW. We owe the memory of a great man no less.
Unless I have fallen for an unusually elaborate hoax, Ralph Nader is about to release a novel …
“In a high mountain redoubt above the Alenuihaha Channel, seventeen megamillionaires and billionaires sat on a wide balcony overlooking the lush green island of Maui and the far Pacific Ocean. They were alike in only three ways: they were old, very rich, and very unrepresentative of humanity, which they intended to save from itself. The man behind the gathering, the richest of them all, was Warren Buffet, who had rented the entire premises of a small luxury hotel for that January 2006 weekend… ” — Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!
“Since the Progressive Era, Ralph Nader has done more than anyone else to protect American consumers. With this utopian fantasy, he shows us how good he thinks things could be.” — Warren Beatty
“A high-spirited visionary romp melding the wisdom, humour and imagination of Ralph Nader. May it inspire action.” — Patti Smith
Also among the Seventeen Meliorists are Paul Newman, George Soros, and Sol Price. The book is 736 pages long, and will be “backed by a major promotional budget.”
Possibly funded by a previously-hidden TARP clause, to be known as the Satirists’ Full Employment Act.
Picked a big popcorn bowl full of ripe tomatoes from our two dozen plants, first real bounty of the summer, and only a month behind the usual ETA.
Pleasant surprise of the season, so far, is the Black Pear, replacement for the Black Prince plant I couldn’t find even through the Dave’s Garden website. It’s one of the ugliest useful plants I’ve ever seen — looks like somebody was trying to breed organic Truck Nutz, creepy potato-leafed vines crowded with clusters of twin & triplet fist-sized, sac-shaped fruit ripening to an angry, transluscent maroon-purple with lime green highlights. But the flesh is succulent and delicious, not too tart, not too sweet, with rich flavor undertones. They’re so delicious fresh, on burgers or rye bread, that I haven’t tried slow-roasting yet, but that may change tomorrow.
Second best for us, so far, has been the Juliet ‘salad tomato’, which I remember from last year as prolific but not extraordinarily tasty. This year, a rainy overcast June and July encouraged lush foliage but kept even my “emergency backup” plants — one Early Girl, a Roma, a Sweet Million cherry tomato — from setting fruit. Only the Juliet and the Sun Gold, an orange (low-acid) cherry type, have been producing since the second week of July, when the Ripeness Rush usually starts around here. And the Sun Golds just have not been up to most year’s standards, but the Juliets are sweet & flavorful. Only problem is that they’re a little thick-skinned for my tastes, but after the last few weeks they have moved up next year’s shopping list from “dependable, not striking” to “must find.”
On the other side of the ledger, my basil plants — one Genovese, on small-leaf globe — have gone to flower, overnight, without ever reaching a decent size. Fortunately, my taste buds aren’t so refined that I can’t make do with supermarket or even frozen basil cubes…
How’s everybody doing at the end of another hot, sticky weekend?
Looks like the new Media Village talking point has been distributed: Americans don’t deserve a decent health care system because we are disgusting fat pigs.
There’s a point (around 3:00) in the MSNBC clip John posted earlier where Taibbi talks about America’s relatively high infant mortality rate and low life expectancy, and Maria Bartiromo interrupts to snarl, “We’re OBESE!” with the same combination of loathing & denunciation that a televangelist would use for “We have sinned!” Bartiromo, of course, is not obese — her television contract is based on her meeting certain standards of attractiveness, and I’m sure it includes clauses covering the personal trainers, gym memberships, nutritionists, and whatever other outside assistance is required to keep Bartiromo up to those standards. But the rest of us, well, how can we expect our babies to stay alive if we insist on being willfully, knowingly “obese”?
Then, in the WSJ op-ed John linked later in the evening, anesthesiologist and anti-happiness crusader Dr. Ronald Dworkin complains that Obama’s threatened health reforms will drive skilled professionals like himself out of the medical business, because taxes are too high and Medicare compensation is too low and frankly, smart people don’t want to work that hard. Also, “Americans have grown very fat. This complicates anesthesia tremendously. Putting in IVs, spinals and epidurals is harder. Inserting breathing tubes is much more dangerous. “ True enough, but then, he’s getting paid somewhere north of $300k a year to deal with those complicated fat people. “Quality of care will inevitably decline. That decline will come first in obstetrics… “ Go away, fat people, or the laboring mothers and their babies will suffer!
Granted: Being too fat is a genuine medical problem. Obesity, or the yo-yo dieting too often connected with obesity, leads to higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, yada yada yada. But it’s also a very “resistant” Medical Issue, with roots in everything from genetics to modern suburban planning to the way industrial agriculture is subsidized by tax dollars but local farmers markets are not. In modern America, for all these reasons and more, it often costs more to be thin than to be fat. And it sure costs more to stay healthy, so — more and more often — poor Americans are fatter and less “fit” than wealthy Americans. It does not seem coincidental that one of the memes leaking upwards from the anti-reform astroturf has become “America’s medical system hasn’t failed American citizens — American citizens have failed its medical system.”
Us fatties are using up too much health care, taking up too much room in the emergency rooms, just like we take up too much airline seat space and use too many resources to fill our swollen gullets and cover our bloated hides. And women, of course, are particularly susceptible to this kind of guilt-tripping. Feminist, post-feminist or anti-feminist, some very large percentage of all American women, whatever their actual medical BMI, will always have to fight an inner voice suggesting that we could stand to lose a few (more) pounds. There is nothing so unfeminine as taking up too much space, using up ‘more than one’s share’, attracting too much attention.
After World War II, American economists decided that in order to keep unemployment at an appropriate level, the women who’d been “enticed” into paid employment while “their men” were overseas needed to be sent back to the kitchen and the nursery. A deliberate part of this campaign was the argument, repeated at every level of the media from the radio soap operas to the Harvard Business School research journals, that “bored housewives” and “novelty-seeking co-eds” who insisted on keeping their high-paying office or technical jobs, or demanded slots at the better universities, were “taking jobs away from the heads of households (men), who wouldn’t be able to feed their families”. All the old reliable anti-womanist slogans were also revived (‘career girls’ were unattractive, sterile, neurotic spinsters who couldn’t ‘get a man’, probably because of their sexual abnormalities), but this new meme really sold. Any woman who wanted a job more interesting or better-paid than retail clerk or primary-school teacher was a selfish, self-centered, unpatriotic monster who didn’t mind taking food out of the mouths of starving children. This re-branding worked so well that by the mid-1960s, even women who “had no choice but to work” — women who were themselves heads-of-household — often felt compelled to wear their “excuses” like a badge, or a mark of shame.
Today, American economists are facing a new re-structuring of a nationwide industry, the health-care system, that uses almost one dollar out of every five available. Our current system works very well for the top economic tier, less well and far more expensively for the middle (voting) tiers, and badly / catastrophically for the expanding bottom layer. Suddenly, out of every media outlet, from the morning talk shows to the political blogs to the Wall Street Journal, comes a new slogan: Americans get less health for more dollars than any other industrialized nation because we don’t deserve good health. We haven’t earned it, and if we insist on using it anyway, we’ll be depriving other, more needy fellow citizens of their fair share. And the mark of our selfish unworthiness is that we’re fat. Any good citizen, especially any woman, who “knows” that she should be eating better and exercising more (if only there were more hours in a day, or she could afford a gym membership, or vegetables weren’t more expensive than mac’n’cheez) gets the subliminal message: She can’t afford a mammogram, much less treatment for breast cancer, not because the World’s Best Health Care System is broken, but because she’s selfish even to want such luxuries when she hasn’t earned them.
A long-term acquaintance on a small group mailing list chose this week to move from a steady drip of more-or-less-ignorable libertarian/objectivist statements into Full Frontal Wingnut. After circulating a long, badly-written, tediously unfunny “humorous letter” about the Self-Proclaimed So cia list President Obama’s Nazi-Inspired Campaign to Trick Innocent Americans Into “Flagging” Their Neighbors for Thought Crimes Against IRS Death Squads of the So-Called-Health-Reform Task Force to Destroy the World’s Best Medical System, they were rebutted with great patience by fellow members from all points of the political spectrum. Amidst the ensuing squid-cloud of butthurt, rules-lawyering, and accusations of bad faith, Acquaintance announced that they get all their news from four “smart, unbiased” online sources: Instapundit, Google, and two “trustworthy” milblogs, Winds of Change and Blackfive.
I know nothing of military blogs or bloggers, but I suspect that if Glenn Reynolds is the measure of smart & trustworthy, then these two may bear the same relationship to military news as Icanhascheezburger bears to veterinary science. Can the better read among you, especially the veterans, provide some recommendations for sane milblogs that won’t be too frightening to someone with a bad case of Starship Troopers Syndrome?
There sure has been a lot of hand-wringing today, hasn’t there?
A commentor on an earlier post complained:
Believe me, I would love to have a realist-libertarian party that I could vote for.
Then go run for your local school board, or find a similarly-minded Realist-Libertarian you can support to do so. Srsly. The “Permanent Republican Majority”, such as it was/is, came about because the Republican true believers spent 30-plus years finding & supporting anti-science school board candidates and anti-choice city council candidates and anti-government state drainage commission auditor candidates. These tiny community nuisance larvae, nurtured by wingnut welfare and protected by low-information-voter apathy, eventually pupated in state legislatures, before emerging as full-blown leeches, ticks, and lampreys battening on our misfortunate nation’s lifeblood during the anti-Clinton congressional “Class of 1994” and the Bush/Cheney Kleptocracy. (It also bound the sane conservatives into a death pact with the Insane Klowns Posse, but that’s their problem to solve, or not.)
The Realist-Libertarians — and their counterparts on the other axis, like the Greens — believe they can find a magical all-purpose Savior Candidate, like Ralph Nader, whose enormous logical appeal and sheer personal charisma will make all us disaffected voters smack our foreheads and change our party registration. And also possibly bring in a whole! new! wave! of former non-voters enchanted by the MESSAGE, which has never before been so brilliantly embodied. This is like trying to change the Titanic’s direction by tying Leonardo DiCaprio to the bowsprit — no matter how much media attention it may attract, the laws of political physics will not work in your favor.
Of course Green and Libertarian candidates do sometimes run for one of those humble bottom-level civic offices, and even win. But all too often, prospective third-party Political Leaders leave the field, if not the party, after their first loss. The voters are too stupid, apathetic, or abused to appreciate one’s political genius, so they don’t deserve a second chance. Or the Entrenched Interests are too evil and/or powerful to understand that immediately surrendering their picayune personal fiefdoms to the New Perfect Goal is the only logical choice if they are not to be swept into the dustbin of history. Compromising, horse-trading, persuading other individuals (many of them self-involved greedy hacks and nutbags of dubious intellect and no obvious achievements) to vote in favor of the New Paradigm is tedious and soul-soiling.
It’s much easier to stomp off the field and then sit on the sidelines bitching, but Rush Limbaugh only achieved his current status because thousands of other Republicans were willing to expend their efforts in the actual political game. Even President Obama’s “overnight” success came as the culmination of many years of not-obvious-to-the-mainstream-media work and planning on his part and that of hundreds of other Democratic professionals and committed amateurs.
On a semi-related topic, I found this particular one-star review
of Duck for President entertaining:
“America has a broken electoral system, a polarized electorate, and a dysfunctional Congress, yet somehow this book is amusing?
The book could be construed as funny if we ignore the fact that we have a representative form of government. When we remind ourselves that we’re a self-governing society, we are reminded that what we now call Duck is what we used to think of as a citizen in public service.
In a representative democracy we are all Ducks. And while it may not be fair to judge a light-hearted children’s book on the basis of underlying sociopolitical assumptions, it’s our responsibility as citizens to accept that we are ultimately responsible for the what’s wrong in government, not just teach our children to blame it on Duck. We have met the Duck, and it is us.”