Unused jogging trampolines make comfortable dog beds:
Florida woman, boxer wrangler and football hooligan currently deep-fat frying something in a humid swamp somewhere.
Betty Cracker has been a Balloon Juice writer since 2012.
There was a school shooting in Ohio today. One seventeen-year-old kid is dead. Four students are in the hospital with gunshot wounds. One kid is in custody for the shooting. And about 1,100 more Americans now know that sick feeling of being trapped in a building with an armed crazy person bent on murder. That’s just the kids who were at the school. I’m not even talking about the helpless, nauseated feeling their parents must have endured.
I know a little something about how the uninjured kids at that school felt today. Many years ago, an angry nut case walked into an office building where I was working and opened fire, killing three and wounding two more. I know what it’s like to hunker down in your “safe place,” the minutes crawling by while police conduct a room-to-room search for a madman. You whisper nervously with your scared-shitless colleagues about who is missing, who might be dead. You contemplate pissing in a trashcan because you’re afraid to leave the locked room you’re in. You watch that locked door with your heart in your throat, hoping you don’t see the handle turning or, worse yet, bullets flying through the flimsy wooden barrier.
And you know what? That kind of experience is just not so rare anymore. I bet at least a couple of you could recount similar incidents.
Tonight on the news, the usual talking heads will say the usual things, but there will be less coverage about the shooting in Ohio today since the body count must be in the double digits now to dominate a news cycle. The usual assholes will make the usual boneheaded argument about arming teachers, and the truly, deeply stupid may even suggest arming students. And we’ll forget until the next time, even those who have been there and seen that.
But the kids who were at that school today won’t forget, not for awhile anyway. I used to get angry about it. I used to wonder what kind of national psychosis could lead us to believe it’s perfectly okay to be ass-deep in unsecured weaponry and tolerate gun homicide rates that are 15-20 times higher than those of the rest of the so-called civilized world.
Oh sure, every now and then some European dude goes off his nut and commits mass murder. Pam Geller’s Norwegian fan-boy, Anders Behring Breivik, pulled off mass murder on a scale that no-doubt made our homegrown white supremacists pea-green with envy (with a little assist from US ammo clip mail order outfits).
But I don’t get angry about it anymore. Gun don’t kill people; assholes with guns kill people. The NRA won a long time ago, and this is just how it has to be. So welcome to the club, kids. It’s not so exclusive anymore.[X-POSTED at Rumproast]
Big Pink Inc., still smarting from that unfortunate Planned Parenthood rock-turning incident that exposed the wingnut creepy-crawlies running the joint, the inflated executive salaries, the breathtakingly large portion of donations funneled toward corporate whoring, etc., has hired Mark Penn’s flak organization to gauge PR fallout and presumably craft a communications strategy to repair the damage. Here’s a sample
survey question statement to rate for accuracy from the survey:*
Penn, as you may recall, was the genius behind the twin ”caucuses, what caucuses?” and “hard-working white Americans” strategies in the Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign that nearly destroyed the Clinton brand and almost certainly cost the current Secretary of State the nomination while leaving her campaign on the hook for millions of dollars. Penn has since gone on to be wrong about just about everything else, making a serious play for Bill Kristol’s all-time wrong record. So he’ll no doubt be a terrific asset to the Komen peeps.[X-POSTED at Rumproast; H/T: Rumproast commenter MikeJ]
*Edited for clarity since it’s a statement rather than a question, as pointed out in comments.
Much as Tom Friedman gleans man-on-the-street wisdom from the cabbies who ferry him to and fro, I sallied forth from the Cracker Cloister yesterday to mingle with the common folk, securing priceless insights that I will share directly. Unlike Friedman, I didn’t board a G6 and fly to Aspen to pick up a $75,000 speaking fee.
Rather, I played hooky along with my teenage daughter to visit a couple of theme parks, including a park that has a section devoted to a fictional young sorcerer. The fiction-based city to which we traveled for this purpose should be renamed “Or-LINE-do” since visitors spend the majority of their day languishing in queues. There were lines to access the $15 parking lot. Lines to pay an outrageous sum to visit the parks. Lines to have our bags searched. Lines to hear a sales pitch before paying $29.95 for a plastic replica of a wizard’s wand.
There were even lines for lunch seating at The Three Broomsticks tavern and the privilege of paying $40.00 for a bagged salad that reeked of chlorine, a dollop of runny mac ‘n cheese accompanied by a sad cluster of grapes and souvenir tankards of “Butterbeer” (which turns out to be cream soda topped with an oilier incarnation of Cool Whip). Anyhoo, it was at The Three Broomsticks that I obtained “cabbie wisdom” by briefly eavesdropping on the conversation of a pair of 20-something women at the adjacent table.
As they consumed THEIR $20 bagged salads, the young women’s discussion turned to the upcoming Republican debate. They admitted to one another that they hardly pay attention to politics at all and hadn’t watched the previous debates, but both expressed interest in seeing that evening’s tussle. Why? Because they were alarmed about what they’d heard regarding the Republicans’ wholesale assault on women’s rights and birth control.
Thanks to the monsoon that greeted us as we exited our final ride of the evening and the extraordinarily long line in the parking garage that resulted when everyone fled the parks at the same moment, we didn’t get home in time to see the entire debate, though we did catch the tail end of it and the silly Republican gasbags analyzing it on CNN. There was the one with the Friedman-like mustache, sans “understanding.” There was Eponymous Eponymouson of RedState — whose vertical cranial dimensions have expanded alarmingly or else I need to adjust my TV settings. And there was that sallow scold who used to collect a paycheck for lying to the press on behalf of the Bush administration.
If I recall correctly, this trio — to a man — acknowledged that all this talk of separating sluts from their contraceptives might redound to the discredit of the party in the short-term. But all expressed hope that the empty-headed trollops would be consumed with more pressing issues come election time, like the cost of the fuel they expend as they drive their Camrys from one irresponsible sexual tryst to the next.
One of the women on the panel threw cold water on that hope, saying that women “don’t forget” and pointing out that the GOP already had a gender gap problem before its presidential slate decided to channel the town fathers in The Scarlet Letter. If my chance encounter with the formerly apolitical young women at The Three Broomsticks is any indication, she’s right.[X-POSTED at Rumproast]
He’s actually pretty good too:[H/T: BuzzFeed]
Rachel Maddow is fed up with PolitiFact. She’s not alone. PolitiFact’s galloping case of Broderitis seems to have worsened recently. Perhaps its most infamous foray into useful idiocy was its 2011 “Lie of the Year” award for Democrats who correctly characterized Paul Ryan’s “Coupons4Codgers” plan as the end of Medicare as we know it.
But PolitiFact routinely distorts the facts in ways large and small, as chronicled frequently at this blog and elsewhere. This morning brought a fresh example of PolitiFact’s moldy decay to my attention: It rated Florida Governor Rick Scott’s claim at CPAC that his administration is “poised to get rid of over 1,000 more regulations in 2012” MOSTLY TRUE despite the fact that the numbers simply don’t add up (by PolitiFact’s own account) and that they had to broaden the definition of “the Scott administration” to encompass the entire Florida legislature to even get within striking distance of TRUE.
So who are these PolitiFact people and why do they seem so hell-bent on muddying the waters their mission statement claims they are here to clarify? This came up last week when Mistermix pointed out yet another example of the broken mathematical model PolitiFact uses to separate fact from fiction. Balloon Juice commenter Lex said:
The Tampa Bay (formerly St. Petersburg) Times [sponsor of the PolitiFact project — ed.] is owned by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies, a journalism think tank and training center. I’ve attended two training sessions there and also have served as a presenter at a third (off-site). To this one-time customer, Poynter appears, with a few exceptions, to be generally a well-run, thoughtful, public-spirited place and, overall, a force for good in U.S. journalism.
Lately, they’ve been kind of screwing the pooch, both with respect to Politifact’s misstatements and inconsistencies and with the way they handled Jim Romenesko.
After the Politifact Medicare “Lie of the Year” debacle, right before Christmas, I wrote Politifact’s Bill Adair, a guy whose work I’d long respected. I cc’d Poynter President Karen Dunlap, whom I’ve also met. And I said, basically, “I love you guys, but you’re violating the first rule of holes and damaging the Poynter brand.” I was hoping that they might hear and respond to someone with ties to Poynter in a way that they might not respond to some anonymous member of the general public. But I never heard a word back from either one of them.
Lex’s assessment squares with my personal experience with The Tampa Bay Times, which is generally a decent paper. The paper competes in the Tampa Bay market with the more conservative Tampa Tribune. I’m sure it’s not immune to the panic and despair that characterize damn near all mainstream news outlets these days as they struggle to survive a wrenching market dislocation occasioned by the rise of the internet, a profusion of ideology-centric cable channels, etc.
Many folks have suggested that PolitiFact is willing to interpret the facts in a wildly inconsistent manner to avoid getting tagged with the “liberal” label, which it believes will hurt business. I’m convinced that this is true. The question is, what can be done about it? Should we just conclude PolitiFact is worse than useless as Maddow suggests and accept that it has zero credibility now and never will?
If it continues to operate as it currently has, I see no other choice. But the idea behind PolitiFact — objective parsing of political speech to reveal what’s true and what’s bullshit — remains an important service in theory and one we can no longer count on news bureaus to perform. And, as Lex points out, the organization behind PolitiFact isn’t some Murdoch propaganda outlet that revels in its ability to squeeze the rubes. So perhaps it is capable of reform.
Maybe a fix is as simple as this: Get rid of the ratings. Just give us the facts that are already contained in each rating entry and let us decide for ourselves where it falls on the truth scale. From what I’ve seen, the facts presented seem mostly accurate and well-sourced; PolitiFact fucks up when they try to assign ratings. So they should stop doing it.
I realize that would take a lot of the fun out of it, both for PolitiFact and its readers. The PANTS ON FIRE thing is cute, gimmicky and an essential attention-getter for marketing purposes. But as PolitiFact has demonstrated in terms that can be mathematically illustrated, they haven’t found a way to apply labels in an unbiased manner.
They’ll need to decide what’s more important: the marketing or the mission. So far, it has been the former. But it doesn’t have to be that way.[X-POSTED at Rumproast]