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February 12, 2010

tea partiers: poorly mannered

Further to Captain America maligning the Tea Partiers, there is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that Marvel Comics apologized.  This is not surprising bad news.  I forget who owns Marvel Comics — ExxonMobil? Beatrice? — but there was no way that contrition was not going to be squeezed out of someone, in the slight chance that Tea Partiers not only can read, but when they do they read Marvel Comics.

The good news is that some spokesman of some Tea Party splinter, when asked for comment, demonstrated the grace and good nature that make the Tea Party as beloved as they are today:

In response to Marvel's explanation and apology, Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips told Yahoo! News that it "sounds less like a genuine 'we're sorry' than it does a 'we're sorry we got caught' statement."

"When I was a child in the '60s Captain America was my favorite superhero," he said.  "It's really sad to see what has traditionally been a pro-America figure being used to advance a political agenda."

Obstreperous?  Dick-headed?  Here's one thing I do know: when dude was growing up in the 60s, Captain America only barely had his own comic book.  He ran in "Tales of Suspense" until 68, which was then renamed "Captain America".  Cap did regularly appear in "The Avengers", but these were not books that at the forefront of pop culture like "Detective Comics" or "Amazing Spider-Man".  I'm not saying that dude was not a Captain America fan.  I'm just saying that it is much more job-appropriate for dude to have been a Cap fan than it would be to have been an Invisible Woman fan.

Of course, Cap was popularized by a character name in "Easy Rider", but that was ironic, and they didn't have irony back then.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:51 AM

February 11, 2010

paul ryan: bad citizen

This TPM post (written by Rachel Slajda) skims the surface of Rep. Paul Ryan's leanings nicely, but it's an important point to remember in Ayn Rand's beyond-the-grave war against humanity.
Rand developed the objectivist philosophy, which values the self, capitalism and laissez-faire economics.  Ryan, the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, reportedly requires staffers and interns to read her opus, Atlas Shrugged, and gives out copies as gifts.

Ryan is the author of the counter-budget proposed by the House GOP.  And Slajda details how Ryan's career has been plagued by constant reference to "collectivism" as a bad thing, as opposed to "capitalism" as a good thing.

I am a collectivist, in that I believe that a society is judged by the welfare of the lowest caste and not the highest.  And I do not believe that "opportunity!" is a tangible thing that can be doled out.  I certainly am ambitious and want to provide for me and mine, but I also am concerned with everyone else.  That's because I have a conscience.  And I'm proud to have one.

To divide society into collectivists and capitalists is a tiny little fig leaf to mask one's callous greed.  And there's nothing wrong with being callously greedy, in this country, in the same way that there's nothing wrong with me saying that the callously greedy are not only assholes, but bad citizens.  Like Paul Ryan.

And the great thing about acolytes of Ayn Rand is that I'm not terribly afraid of them having an irrational appeal to the body politic.  As greedy and self-centered as everyone is, there are more have-nots than haves, and even the have-nots will eventually break through the lotto appeal of Rand's justifications and realize that ideology is a great blanket to sleep with, but it will not put food on the table.

So I say Paul Ryan should run for president — not just for 2012, but for 2008, and maybe for the world.  Because his moral bankruptcy could use more daylight.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:38 PM

david broder: sarah palin!

While it's getting boring to write about Sarah Palin, as her ubiquity trumps her loathsomeness, David Broder stamping her approval is a moment of pure novelty — Broder, the Beltway caretaker of the status quo of 1994, is not exactly known for his recent prescience, so him devoting a column to populism and its discontents is a little bit like Broder typing "W00t!" over and over again to demonstrate how "down" he is with the "kids".

And in another even more novel sense, if you think about it, the lofty nod of Broder is exactly the kind of gesture that would dissuade the tea-swilling fans of Palin, as they are looking for authenticity! and realness! and know-nothingism!  So it would stand to reason that being welcomed into the DC conventional wisdom is not something that would endear Palin to those convention-goers who pay her thousands of dollars for talking.

The best is Broder's kicker:

Those who want to stop her will need more ammunition than deriding her habit of writing on her hand.  The lady is good.

So on the planet that Broder lives on, the only thing Palin has been criticized for is writing on her hand?  Dude is telecommuting to reality.

Posted by mrbrent at 12:18 PM

snowpocalypse: dumb people

There's been a lot of fun and excellent pushback against the rising tide of global warming/snowstorm nonsense.  And it is a rising tide, such that the NYT devoted a front page story to it.  I watched a little Maddow last night, and she got off some good ones.  And Colbert crushed it in a more succinct fashion, proclaiming, "It's dark outside... we can only assume the sun has been destroyed."

I'm not interested in re-fighting the climate change fight.  Serious people understand that "global warming" is not the same thing as everything warmer, at all times, and that a consequence of what is entailed by "global warming" is more frequent unpredictable weather events (and not only warm ones).  I never did get the vehemence with which opponents of trying to do something to prevent irrevocable life-threatening changes to the planet have opposed this — something about the bully mentality of the conservatives, who are not about governing but winning.  But I am giving up on the idea that the only people in this nation interested in actively opposing the scientific method were those doing so because their belief in a religious text is so literalized that they consider Isaac Newton some sort of heretic.  It's not just them.  It's now every asshole who trample logic looking to score cheap points to make themselves feel big.

So yeah, disturbing, watching the yahoos hur-hur as they stub their toes on science.  But maybe we can lift the taboo on calling dumb people dumb?  I don't think that pretending that they're not dumb is going to make them smarter anytime soon.

Folks don't like science.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:22 AM

February 10, 2010

and one three-legged bear

A World Briefing item in this morning's NYT contains information that is news to me:
In what Russian news agencies described as the largest such interdiction of its kind in recent years, Russian border guards seized 447 bear paws from a truck in the Jewish Autonomous Region, near the frontier with China, on Monday.

Now that's obviously bad news for those hundred eleven bears (and the one three-legged bear), but there is such a thing as a Jewish Autonomous Region in Russia?  More to the point, "Jewish Autonomous Region" is a name that people use to describe a place that people live?

I thought that the world was supposed to be a small place, now that we're all digitally stuck with each other.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:57 AM

captain america!

Finally, comic books and Fox News have collided, meaning that I don't have to pretend that the two interests are mutually exclusive.  Bleeding Cool reports that in the most recent issue of "Captain America", Cap and the Falcon watch a Tea Party-like rally as the Falcon (who is black) suggests that he would not be so welcome at such a rally.  And then Fox News noticed!

Now why the Tea Party movement would be thought of as racist, given it's rainbow coalition of members and its decided sense of decorum in sign-making, is beyond me.  But now this is between Fox News and Captain America, and I know who I'm with.

Of course these two interests — American super-hero comic books and the whack that is the American right wing — is entirely mutually exclusive, no matter how hard the Breitbarts of the world try to claim some character as actually conservative.  Super heroes originated as the dream narrative of adolescent boys, and generally the adolescent boys who surrendered their lunch money to the other boys who liked other things.  Super heroes are accordingly the defenders of the weak, and the protectors of the powerless.  And if you can find me a conservative that comes anywhere near fitting that description, drop me a line.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:07 AM

February 9, 2010

john brennan: murderous miscreants

Via Spencer Ackerman, Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan writes an op-ed for USAToday concerning the GOP talking point that the administration is somehow soft on terrorism:
Politically motivated criticism and unfounded fear-mongering only serve the goals of al-Qaeda.  Terrorists are not 100-feet tall. Nor do they deserve the abject fear they seek to instill.  They will, however, be dismantled and destroyed, by our military, our intelligence services and our law enforcement community.  And the notion that America's counterterrorism professionals and America's system of justice are unable to handle these murderous miscreants is absurd.

Remember that Brennan is drawing a government salary, so all those implied cursewords are a risk for him.  (Though I bet that he's taking some heat from pals over the "murderous miscreants" construction).

In other news, of all of the papers out of business why is USAToday still publishing?  We do not need anymore infographics now that we have an Internet!

Posted by mrbrent at 1:23 PM

south carolina registers subversives

I guess it would be pretty easy to get cheesed by this, but I look at it as an opportunity — now your street cred can easily be proven by either flashing a card (if the State so provides one), or at least a brief and convenient request through the nearest South Carolina state agency, or even maybe the Internet.

"No, I swear to God, I am a subversive and I want to overthrow the government no matter if you believe me or not!"  That will be a sentence of the past, as South Carolina will vouch for you for a low low price of five bucks.

And the most fabulous thing about SC registering subversives is that its definition of "subversive" more aptly describes your generic right wing agitators (up to and including Tea Baggers) more than it does your pinkos and your socialist and one-time Air America listeners.  Which means it's slippery slope time in the other more southerly Carolina, where the registration fees will pour in like sweet tea.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:07 AM

france: hand-wringing

France, mistaking itself for Canada, has been struggling with issues of "national identity".  And as a result, there will be panels — blue ribbon panels, mind you &mdash and then tangible action, though which the children will not be forgotten:
There will be a form of young citizens’ manual for students, and new citizens will have to speak better French, know more about “the values of the republic” and take part in a more solemn but undefined ceremony — but the details were vague.

I'm not one to make fun of France as much as the next guy, just on the glass houses principle.  But if the solution to a poorly-defined French "national identity" is to indoctrinate students harder, then let me suggest that the "solemn but undefined ceremony" be performed at the start of each school day.

I'm an American, and each day of my school started with a brisk Pledge of Allegiance.  And I can speak from experience: nothing is more character-building than mumbling oaths to a metonymy every morning.

I mean, look at me know.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:56 AM

February 8, 2010

tea party convention: sleepytime

I realize that I should have some sort of opinion of the Tea Party Con held in Nashville last weekend, and more specifically the keynote speech that Sarah Palin gave that was broadcast live by the news channels.  And I don't really.  The bar for ridiculous bullshit has been raised so high that anything short of an actual lynch mob raging in the streets of Nashville, looking not just for ethnic minorities but anyone without sufficient inchoate rage, anyone who does not agree and yell and wave a tea bag and feel righteous, is not really worth spending words on.  Though Zachary Roth nicely sums up the dark underbelly of the convention, or the dark underbelly of the dark underbelly, I guess.  But I would add this: "surprising exactly no one."

And Palin?  What of her?  Ugly sentiment and rabble rousing, and again par for the course.  Predictable.  And again, two years ago it would have sounded shocking but now, after a period a shout-enforced Wisdom of Crowds, just garden variety D-U-M dumb.

Though her keynote did raise a couple questions for me: did Father Coughlin get paid to go on the way he did, and did he get broadcast live while doing it?

Posted by mrbrent at 12:19 PM

how many who dats will there be today?

I completely agree: if you are one for televised professional athletic contests, last night's Super Bowl was a good'un.

Talking with friends during the game, I started to explain that the one thing that I've found it impossible to write about is Hurricane Katrina leveling New Orleans while the government sat on its hands.  And I can't write about it — I've started about four separate times and each time I reach the three thousandth word and realize that I've gotten nowhere and I trash it.  Because I get so angry, see?  And so as I'm explaining this, kind of as a light conversational something, I get so mad that I launch into a five minute diatribe about people drowning in their own attics that ends with me tearing up and missing the Brees to Shockey touchdown.

But (Jeremy Shockey notwithstanding) the New Orleans Saints charmed the viewing audience, and not as a result of Katrina, but as a result of the Saints (and Drew Brees) embracing the city, and the recovery of the city.  It honestly felt like if one team and not the other team won then it would matter, that something material would change, and this is a very uncommon feeling to have watching a football game.

And football-wise it was a fun game and close all the way through and the Saints were dazzling and devious and they gutted it out.

The experience was a stirring validation of time-wasting, and I look forward to doing the same next year.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:40 AM