Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Reining In Credit Card Abuses

Finally. It isn’t a done deal yet, but the House has passed a bill to protect consumers against being suckerpunched by their credit card carriers. The House vote was 357-70. The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and signed by Obama.

Sudden and/or retroactive interest rate hikes, double-cycle billing, issuing credit cards to anyone under 18 — say goodbye. This law won’t take effect until next year, except for the provision requiring 45 days notice before increasing interest rates. That will be effective in 90 days.

The bill has bipartisan support, but some Republicans trotted out their tired cliché that this bill would take away choices and credit opportunities for consumers. [yawn]

I agree with the other main conservative argument against laws like this: that it’s up to everybody to read something before they sign it. No argument there. But that doesn’t mean these underhanded fees and penalties hidden in the fine print — known as “Gotcha Capitalism” — should be legal.

It’s up to everybody to defend themselves against being attacked on the street, but that doesn’t mean robbery and assault should be legal.

Now, about that conservative mantra of “Read the fine print, Stupid!” — check out this other story and see how they react. The Washington legislature has passed a law — it hasn’t been signed by the governor yet — that’s designed to keep state parks open.

When Washington motorists pay their annual vehicle license fee, they have the option (“Opting In”) of paying an extra $5, which goes toward maintaining the state’s parks. This new law changes “Opt In” to “Opt Out.” Until now, motorists would pay this extra $5 only if they put a checkmark in the Yes box. Now, they’ll be paying that extra $5 automatically UNLESS they check the No box.

Lawmakers are expecting this “adjustment” to raise an extra $20 million to keep state parks off the chopping block. Personally I don’t think it’ll raise anywhere near that amount, just because the public is getting more skeptical and more wary about everything.

But for some odd reason, those same “Why didn’t you read the contract first, you Idiot?!?!?!?” Republicans are just appalled — sick with worry — that a few harried vehicle owners might be unwittingly donating $5 towards keeping state parks open.

Go figure.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Arlen Specter, Welcome Aboard!

The Republican “Big Tent” got a bit smaller today. The party managed to drive away Arlen Specter, who’s served as a Republican Senator for 29 years. Maybe alienating longtime members is a GOOD thing. The Republicans sure have been working at it.

It might take awhile for Arlen Specter to get used to his new surroundings; a new culture. So much to learn: a political opponent is not an “Enemy” who needs to be “Destroyed.” If somebody disagrees over a political issue, it doesn’t necessarily mean that this person burns American flags in his spare time and can’t wait for the next terrorist attack.

Democrats may not be any less petty or spiteful than Republicans. Joe Lieberman got called plenty of names when he voted with Republicans. But I don’t recall anyone accusing Lieberman of “hating America” or being “with the terrorists.”

On the other hand, Specter’s party switch has already been described as “a threat to the country” by Mitch “Still Searching For My Chin” McConnell.

People’s reactions to the party switch have been predictable. The Left is ecstatic. The Right is spewing out nicknames as fast as they can dream them up. Arlen Sphincter and Benedict Arlen are two of the more printable names I’ve seen on the Neanderthal end of the blogosphere.

But Arlen Specter’s switch is a symptom more than anything else. If the Republican Party doesn’t want to go the way of the Whigs and the Tories, they need to look at themselves and try to figure out why a high-ranking 29-year member of their party would defect to the other side.

The most visible (and LOUDEST) Republicans are basically a bunch of tiny-minded misogynistic bigoted assholes. If the party wants to be represented by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich, they’re headed for oblivion.

For the moment, it’s great to watch the Party of Bush-Cheney-Rove coming apart at the seams. But we need two viable parties. If the Democrats get too entrenched, they’ll end up just as corrupt and power-crazed as the Republicans were during Bush’s second term. And nobody will benefit from that.

Believe it or not, when the CIA was first created after World War II (it had a different name then), the loudest objections came from conservative Republicans. They were appalled at the thought of a government agency having that much power and secrecy. Sixty years later, look at what that party has mutated into.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

County Commissioner Earns “Shitbucket of the Week” Award

There might be thousands of local politicians throughout the country who are just as petty and mean-spirited as Mike Kilburn — County Commissioner, Warren County, Ohio. But this particular story just pushed the wrong buttons.

I first learned about this from the Rude Pundit’s post of 4/22/09.

We’ve all heard about rightwing governors posturing and preening with “I don’t want any of that commie stimulus money.” Usually they end up groveling and taking the money, or — even more contemptible — cherry-picking which stimulus money they’ll accept. The standard procedure — since Republicans are always marching in lockstep — is to take all of the money EXCEPT for those funds which would provide unemployment benefits for those worthless parasites who have the nerve to be unemployed.

And now our Big-Douchebag-In-A-Small-Pond wants to get in on the preening. Warren County, Ohio, was eligible for $373,000 in federal stimulus money to purchase three new buses and upgrade their fleet. Commissioner Mike Kilburn said: “I’ll let Warren County go broke before taking any of Obama’s filthy money.”

This particular transit system serves a mostly rural area full of senior citizens and people with disabilities. Kilburn was reminded of that fact, and replied: “I'm tired of paying for people who don't have.”

The county commissioners are looking for a way to give this stimulus money back while making sure that nobody else gets it.

This is the exact kind of shit that needs to be thoroughly scooped out and dumped, if or when the Republican Party ever decides to clean its litter box.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Health Care Reform: Republicans, You Can Run Along Now

The Senate is planning to use a parliamentary procedure that will “fast track” Obama’s proposed health care changes. Under this procedure — known as Reconciliation — a simple majority vote is all that’s required for a bill to become law.

Now, there are 100 senators, and Democrats comprise…hmmm…let’s see…


OK, equal time for the Rightwads: Socialized Medicine!!! Government Tyranny!!! Fascism!!! The biggest most frightening Government Power Grab in history!!!

Like it or not, America will probably be joining the rest of the industrialized world soon. Next stop — Twenty-First Century. Fifty million Americans won’t be facing bankruptcy or homelessness just because they don’t have health insurance, or because their slippery HMO found a way to push them through the cracks.

The Democrats’ plan to use the Reconciliation procedure is still a tentative agreement. It should be ratified by the House and Senate next week. This procedure has its drawbacks and not all Democrats are in favor of it.

I think these parliamentary procedures should be used as a last resort. And our health care crisis qualifies as one of those Last Resorts, IMHO.

Republicans and some Democrats are warning that using this tactic might cause divisiveness and polarization.

Oh no. You mean we won’t be having any more of these level-headed civil discussions? The Loyal Opposition might suddenly get shrill and angry?

Say it isn’t so!

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Newt Gingrich Keeps Flailing Away at Obama

Gingrich thundered: “A Real Man goes charging into his wife’s hospital room while she’s undergoing chemotherapy, and serves divorce papers on that useless bitch!”

OOOPS — That was supposed to be OFF the record. Doh! Sorry, Neuter. OK, this is the part that was ON the record:

“Obama is in a world where Hamas is firing missiles every day into Israel, Iran is building nuclear weapons and the North Koreans today, basically during his speech, fired a missile. And he has some wonderful fantasy idea that we're going to have a great meeting next year. With who? Who's coming to this meeting? The Pakistanis? The Indians? The Chinese? The Russians? And what are they going to promise? And why would you believe them? I just think it's very dangerous to have a fantasy foreign policy and it can get you in enormous trouble just like giving — we don't have a war on terror anymore. We don't have terrorist attacks anymore. So now homeland security has manmade disasters. I'm somehow not comfortable with the fact that 9/11 was a manmade disaster but not a terrorist attack and I'm not comfortable with words instead of serious systematic policies.”

In another speech, Gingrich said Obama’s planned tax increases are a threat to the Church.

He accused Obama of “deliberately trying to take away the charitable deduction for successful people so they will not give as much money to churches or charities.”

“I think there's a clear to desire to replace the church with a bureaucracy, and to replace people's right to worship together with a government-dominated system. This is most aggressive, militant, secular program I can remember. And I think you have to be really clearly aware that they want an America which is radically different than the country which was created by those pioneers who first landed back in 1607 at Cape Henry and erected a cross to thank God for having allowed them to cross the Atlantic Ocean.”

[sigh] I can’t think of any answers to that drivel, at least nothing that would be printable on a decent family blog such as this one.

On a humorous note (well, sort of), here’s another one of those rightwing websites that’s part funny and part “[gasp] Oh My God!”

Remember now, it’s not nice to laugh at the afflicted. That said, here’s their home page. “ONENEWSNOW.com. A Division of the American Family News Network.”

You’ll notice that one of their main categories is titled Persecution.


cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Biblehumpers: “How I Spent My Spring Vacation.”

Ah, spring vacation. Kids frolicking, college students partying, politicians going home to schmooze with the voters. For certain other elements, there’ll be none of that silly kid stuff during spring recess. So many snakes to handle, so little time.

The Family Research Council wants to make sure that Devil-Worshipping Kathleen Sebelius doesn’t become our next Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Operation Rescue calls her “unfit to serve.” Apparently she thinks human life has some sort of value AFTER the fetus has been born?!?!?!?!

Who knew the state of Kansas was such a hotbed of liberal activism? The Family Research Council’s chief bookburner, Tony Perkins, said: “Literally blood money has built her political foundation here in the state of Kansas. I have not found a politician that has had more direct ties to the abortion industry as Kathleen Sebelius.” After that, he rolled around on the floor and started speaking some funny language that no reporter could understand.

A Senate committee will soon be voting on whether to approve Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination. If you think this committee should ignore the Taliban wannabes and listen instead to voters whose IQs are HIGHER than their shoe sizes — please send this message to your senators.

Enough is enough.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

United States Reaches Out to Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba…

America’s foreign policy is finally being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It’s about F#$%!# time.

Obama urged cooperation at the Summit of the Americas today in Trinidad. He said: “I have a lot to learn and I very much look forward to listening and figuring out how we can work together more effectively.” He also asked the other leaders not to blame all of their past problems on the U.S.

He exchanged greetings with Venezuela’s notorious commie, Hugo Chavez. Later Chavez said: “I think it was a good moment. I think President Obama is an intelligent man, compared to the previous U.S. president.”

Chavez also said: “I'm not going to speak for Cuba. It's not up to me...but all of us here are friends of Cuba, and we hope the United States will be, too.”

Obama also spoke with Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega. As you probably remember, Ronald Reagan used his presidency to stage terrorist attacks against Ortega’s government. (Forget it, rightwads, they weren’t “Freedom Fighters.” They were Terrorists.) It didn’t work. Ortega got voted out in 1990, and then got voted back in in 2006.

Ortega still holds some resentment. (Who wouldn’t?) Since he couldn’t very well say anything to Dead Ronnie, he took it out on Obama. He gave a 50-minute speech blasting everything the U.S. has done, going all the way back to the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. But he did point out that Obama wasn’t responsible for that.

Obama responded with: “I'm grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old.”

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales was also less than enthusiastic about Obama: “Obama said three things: There are neither senior or junior partners. He said relations should be of mutual respect, and he spoke of change. In Bolivia ... one doesn't feel any change. The policy of conspiracy continues.”

OK, so the entire meeting wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. But it’s a start. There have been decades (centuries, for that matter) of mutual resentment throughout the Americas. Personally I think it’s better to talk about these resentments at a meeting instead of having mutual threats and trade embargos.

And speaking of Cuba — I read this anecdote on a website several years ago. I have no idea whether it’s true or not:

Sometime during Fidel Castro’s adolescence, he got in a fight with a school bully, and got his ass kicked. The next day Castro challenged this same bully to another fight. The bully whupped him again, even worse than the day before. The next day — same thing. Fidel Castro repeated this same procedure every day for the rest of the year — challenge the school bully to a fight, get his ass kicked. Castro never won any of those fights, but by the end of the school year, the bully was terrified of him.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Homeland Security Department Slanders Veterans!

The Rightwing Spew Machine has sure done a big 180 since January. And it was so seamless. From one day to the next, their slogans changed. Or in some cases, the slogans stayed the same but they meant the opposite of what they meant the day before.

They still shriek “Traitor!” and “You Hate America!” to everybody they disagree with. Only now, the President of the United States is the “Traitor!” Same goes for all those America-hating Socialists who voted for him.

Conversely, the people who hate and slander and threaten Obama are the “Patriots.” The louder and more hateful the speech (using the term loosely), the more “patriotic.” I’m not providing any links, but if you’ve surfed a few rightwing blogs lately, you know what I’m talking about. There are some demented twisted people out there.

And now the Republican Party has its panties in a twist because of a Homeland Security warning. Wait, I thought the Homeland Security Department was our friend and anybody who criticized our friend was a flagburning — oh, that’s right, now the government is our enemy. OK, got it. Damn, I’m really trying to keep up here…

As you’ve probably read, the Homeland Security Department has issued a warning to law enforcement agencies that rightwing extremist groups might use the tanking economy and Obama’s race to stir up hatred and recruit more members. The same report also warned that some returning veterans — if they’re having trouble adapting to civilian life after being on the battlefield — could be susceptible to these extremist recruiters.

VETERANS!!!!! Oh boy, a soundbite! Spin baby spin!

House Republican leader John “Woody” Boehner was on it like flies on shit: “To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable.”

Woody was joined in his tantrum by Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla.; Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas; and Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Indiana.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano replied: “Let me be very clear — we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don't have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.”

For once, government scrutiny isn’t limited to just environmentalists, anti-war protesters and people with Middle Eastern names. No wonder the Far Right is having a hissyfit.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

World 1, Pirates 0

This could be just the beginning of a long bloody war between pirates and the rest of the world. But for now, we’ve won a battle. This article from three days ago shows what an awkward situation the United States (and the rest of the world) was caught up in because of these attacks.

And now, we done got us a war hero! You go Barack!

The real heroes of course are the Navy SEALs who pulled off this incredible operation. But it’s also a big STFU to those rightwing spewbags who’ve been jumping for joy like a bunch of 8-year-olds over the president’s dilemma. “Hee hee hee hee look at him grovel. They’re walking all over that liberal pussy.”

This article describes it perfectly: Obama’s “no drama” handling of the hostage crisis. He did what he needed to do and then he went back to work. He didn’t prance around on the world stage blubbering about “you’re either with us or you’re with the pirates!” Presumably he won’t be airlifted out to an aircraft carrier for a “Mission Accomplished!” photo op.

And we can assume he won’t “solve” the pirate problem — a year and a half from now — by invading a country that has absolutely no connection whatsoever to the pirates.

So now what? The international community is demanding protection against these pirates, and the pirates are vowing revenge for the three deadfucks they lost during the Navy SEAL rescue.

These pirate attacks could make the global economic crisis even worse. You’ve seen the bumper sticker “If You Bought It, A Trucker Brought It.” Think of the global version of this, if the world’s busiest shipping lanes are in jeopardy.

The United States can’t (and shouldn’t) handle this alone. Every country that can, should contribute to an international force to patrol these waters. And there should be orders to shoot to kill if a pirate ship approaches. I don’t think that would violate international law; it’s obvious what the pirates’ intentions are when they approach.

But maybe I’m oversimplifying a complicated situation. What say you?

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Uninsured: Huge Numbers, Zero Political Clout

There are about fifty million Americans who don’t have health insurance. So many people, so little power.

This humongous group could learn something from the National Rifle Association. Three million people snap their fingers, and every legislator in the country collapses into a hysterical blubbering quivering mass.

The uninsured probably outnumber those people who think the Earth is 6,000 years old and the Bible contains only one sentence: “And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

And as you’ve probably noticed, that group makes itself heard. (How’s that for an understatement?) Talk about the squeaky wheel.

It’s true that lack of time (they’re probably too busy trying to make ends meet) and money are disadvantages. A Harvard professor of political analysis said: “If I'm in Congress, and I help out farmers, they'll help me out politically. But if I help out the uninsured, they are not likely to help members of Congress get re-elected.”

But I don’t agree completely with that analysis. He’s right that the uninsured — unlike agribusiness, televangelists and the NRA — can’t afford to bribe Congress. If they could, they’d probably be insured.

But one thing they CAN do — right now — is register to vote. And then F$#%!in’ VOTE. You won’t believe this, but in the last election, only ten percent of registered voters said they were uninsured. WTF??? Since the United States doesn’t have 500 million registered voters, there are obviously tens of millions of uninsured Americans who couldn’t be bothered to vote. Or to even register.

I’m all in favor of socialized medicine, even though of course it’ll take away all incentive to work and it’ll ruin the moral fiber of this great nation.

But if any kind of health coverage reform is to have the remotest prayer of ever passing, the people who need this coverage will have to vote. Imagine a group of fifty million voters whom Congress was afraid to piss off. We’d have universal coverage, just like the rest of the industrialized world.

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Thursday, April 09, 2009

CIA: “I’ve Stopped Beating My Wife,” and Other News

For years the CIA has refused to admit that they were “rendering” terrorist suspects to foreign prisons so they could be tortured. They still haven’t admitted to this practice. “Moi???” “America Does Not Torture!”

But now they promise not to do it any more.

And speaking of rendering and torturing — slight change of direction here; warning: harsh and lewd language — some people really do deserve the most gruesome tortures imaginable. The following news item involves a tragedy (the result of a heinous crime), a hero and several villains. Sometimes life really does imitate the most over-the-top action movies where everything is good versus evil, black and white.

Marcus Luttrell is a highly decorated Navy SEAL — the lone survivor of a Taliban attack — now back home in Texas. On the night of April 1st he heard a gunshot, looked outside and saw his Yellow Labrador dead in his yard. He said: “I could tell she tried to get away because there was a blood trail. When I saw she was dead, the only thing that popped into my head was, 'I’ve got to take these guys out.’”

If only.

Luttrell saw a suspicious car parked nearby, crawled under a fence and snuck up behind the occupants with his gun drawn. They never did see him, or didn’t let on anyway; and a few minutes later they drove away. Luttrell got into his pickup and took after them. He couldn’t keep up with them, but he was on the phone with 911 and the police caught up with them. He says he told the 911 operator: “I told them, 'You need to get somebody out here because if I catch them I'm going to kill them.’”

Two of the suspects were charged with animal cruelty; the driver was charged with driving without a license. (And not speeding??? Or fleeing to evade capture???)

Michael John Edmonds II, 21, and Alfonzo Hernandez, 24, both of New Waverly, TX, are facing felony charges that could result in up to six months in jail. That’s nowhere near enough, but it’s still plenty of time for their fellow inmates to take corrective action. While their buttholes are getting reamed out to a size eleventy-seven, they still need to be grateful that Luttrell didn’t kill them slo-o-o-o-owly when he had the chance.

If those two sickfucks don’t get jail time, hopefully some other residents of New Waverly, TX will know who they are and where they live, and proceed accordingly. The douchebags’ names again are Michael John Edmonds II and Alfonzo Hernandez. Calling all New Waverly vigilantes — Do The Right Thing.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Senator Jim Webb is Soft On Crime!

That’s the soundbite you’ll be hearing again and again. Jim Webb has introduced a bill to create a commission that will study all aspects of prison reform. It’s about time.

Any politician who questions the Prison-Industrial Complex is immediately slandered with charges of “soft on crime!” and other less printable insults. But somebody has to do this.

As Glenn Greenwald says in this article: “He isn't just attempting to chip away at the safe edges of America's oppressive prison state. His critique of what we're doing is fundamental, not incremental.”

Our mindless paranoia over “crime!” in general, the war on drugs in particular, and the privatization of our prison system, have all combined to create this nightmare. A Brown University professor has described this country as “a nation of jailers whose prison system has grown into a leviathan unmatched in human history.”

That’s kind of harsh, but it needed saying. But will it play in Peoria?

When Webb was giving a Senate floor speech introducing this bill, he said:

“We have 5% of the world's population; we have 25% of the world's known prison population. We have an incarceration rate in the United States, the world's greatest democracy, that is five times as high as the average incarceration rate of the rest of the world. There are only two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice.”

Since 1980, the number of drug offenders in American prisons has increased from 41,000 to over half a million. That’s a 1,200% increase.

Race plays a role here too. African-Americans comprise 12% of the population. They have roughly the same rate of drug usage as the rest of the population (in spite of what you’ve probably heard). But they make up 37% of all people arrested on drug charges, 59% of those convicted, and 74% of those sent to prison.

This commission (if Webb’s bill becomes law) will also investigate the gang rape and other violence that’s become such a routine part of prison life.

Webb also said, “America's criminal justice system has deteriorated to the point that it is a national disgrace. We are locking up too many people who do not belong in jail.”

Webb is taking a huge political risk by introducing this bill. Needless to say, millions of dumbfucks (of all political viewpoints) will fall for the “soft on crime!” bullshit that gets flung at him. But even worse, the prison industry is one huge powerful organization that doesn’t want to be fucked with. Webb is up against a huge army of deep-pocketed donors, lobbyists and Swiftboaters.

He’s fighting an important battle. Let’s hope this issue gets some coverage from our celebrity/trivia-obsessed “media.”

cross-posted at Bring It On!


Saturday, April 04, 2009

More Signs That America Has a New Leader

The world has now seen that our wild and crazy mascot has been replaced. “You’re either with us or you’re with the terrorists!” and “Bring ‘em on!” have given way to “I'm here to listen, to share ideas and to jointly, as one of many NATO allies, help shape our vision for the future.”

Ah, fresh air. Sunshine.

At a town hall in Strasbourg, France, Obama said: “In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”

Sorry, xenophobes and phony “patriots,” but that needed to be acknowledged and brought into the open. The G-20 Summit and Obama’s speeches were long on feelgood rhetoric and short on specific solutions. But this was an important first step. We’re all in this together, and this new approach of conciliation and collaboration is the only way to deal with the global economy, terrorism, climate change, etc.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy responded with: “It feels really good to be able to work with a U.S. President who wants to change the world and who understands that the world does not boil down to simply American frontiers and borders. And that is a hell of a good piece of news for 2009.”

More good news comes from Obama’s meeting with bank CEOs last week. As this article says, “the bankers struggled to make themselves clear to the president of the United States.”

The CEOs kept “explaining” to the president why they needed to keep paying these exorbitant salaries to their “top” employees (i.e. the ones who dug them into this cesspool in the first place).

Obama interrupted their arrogant God’s-gift-to-the-world preening with “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that…My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Bam!!! Pow!!! You tell 'em! Goddamn, I like our new president.

Conservatives, on the other hand, have a somewhat different reaction.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Most of Us Are Too Insular, Too Closed-Minded

Including YOU. And me.

This column by Nicholas Kristof is entitled The Daily Me. (The phrase was coined by Nicholas Negroponte of M.I.T.)

Now that we all have access to the Internet, with billions of websites just a few clicks away, what news sites do we surf? Most of us try to confirm our existing beliefs by visiting those news sites that we already agree with. As Kristof says, “When we go online, each of us is our own editor, our own gatekeeper. We select the kind of news and opinions that we care most about…we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.”

And unfortunately — this was the most disappointing part — it doesn’t count as being open minded or “expanding your horizons” when you visit extremist websites that are the total opposite of your viewpoint, just so you can ridicule them. Damn it! It’s fun, but it doesn’t count.

So when pro-business pro-development people visit an Earth First! website, or liberals tune in to Rush Limbaugh, they’re not reaching out to the other side or examining other viewpoints. They’re just reaffirming their own beliefs by exclaiming “can you believe this shit?!?!?!?!?”

I’ll probably continue to check out WorldNetDaily, Townhall.com and a few extreme rightwing bloggers who aren’t worth naming. But I won’t pretend it’s for educational purposes; it’s just for laughs. And for that perverse joy in being appalled, horrified, that some sickfuck can actually be this — ahem — but I digress…

Almost half of all Americans now live in a county that votes Democrat or Republican by a landslide. In the 1970s this was true for only one third of Americans. We’re becoming more segregated by beliefs.

A survey of twelve countries found that Americans are the least likely to discuss politics with people of different viewpoints. Most surprisingly (to me anyway), the higher the education level, the more closed-minded a person becomes. High school dropouts were the most willing to discuss issues with people they disagreed with. College graduates “managed to shelter themselves from uncomfortable perspectives.”

Kristof ends his column with: “So perhaps the only way forward is for each of us to struggle on our own to work out intellectually with sparring partners whose views we deplore. Think of it as a daily mental workout analogous to a trip to the gym; if you don’t work up a sweat, it doesn’t count. Now excuse me while I go and read The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.”

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

AIG Executive Commits Suicide

The name of the deceased has not been revealed pending notification of relatives. But Fox News has obtained a copy of the suicide note:

“There just isn’t any point to this any more. I keep hearing all these news reports of American workers losing their jobs, their homes, while I get handed this huge bonus that I didn’t earn, courtesy of Uncle Sam. I can no longer look at myself in the mirror. I can’t stand seeing the greedy shameless person I’ve turned into. And I can not take one more day of muttered curse words, dirty looks, unreturned phone calls and canceled appointments.

“I bear no grudge against that liberal senator who said AIG executives should kill themselves. He was only saying what millions of Americans were probably thinking. And he was right. I’m sorry for the pain this will cause my family, but they will be better off without me.”

Happy April Fools Day.

cross-posted at Bring It On!