Monday, August 27, 2012


I reject that number completely, that people die in America because of lack of health insurance.

-- Rick Santorum on the campaign trail last December

I reject your reality and substitute my own.

-- Adam Savage, Mythbusters

This week everybody was still talking about Todd Akin

It won't die, no matter how much the Republicans would like to kill it. The most entertaining responses have been musical. Like this piece from Taylor Ferrera.

Or this from the Renegade Raging Grannies.

Bria and Chrissie want to thank Akin.

CoochWatch is actually directed at Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, but I can't help speculating that Akin has something to do with the timing of this piece.

But I decided not to rehash everything I covered last week, so I went looking for a more general lesson to learn. Here's what I came up with:

Five Pretty Lies and the Ugly Truths They Hide. When implemented, conservative policies cause a lot of ugliness. And when confronted with these ugly consequences, conservatives rarely adopt a more compassionate position. A few brave ones talk about necessary sacrifices and breaking eggs to make omelets, but most just paper over the ugliness with a pretty lie. “Raped women don’t get pregnant” is just the first lie on my list. It hides the ugly truth that they want to force women to have babies for their rapists.

... and you might also find this stuff interesting

Paul Ryan on abortion:
I stand by my pro-life record in Congress. It’s something I’m proud of. But Mitt Romney is the top of the ticket and Mitt Romney will be president and he will set the policy of the Romney administration.

I wonder if Mitt Romney understands that statements like this endanger his life.

People sometimes question why VPs are such yes-men. Well, it's their job. A VP should NEVER admit a policy difference between himself and the president. If he does, he's telling all the violent lunatics in the country that they can change government policy with a gun.

A former Congressman writes from Azkaban: "Maybe we shouldn't have let Lord Voldemort start his own SuperPAC. It just seems like under the old rules, even He-Who-Must-Not Be-Named had to be, you know, named."

Ezra Klein:
This is where things get tricky. Romney’s welfare ads are not racist. But the evidence suggests that they work particularly well if the viewer is racist, or at least racially resentful. And these are the ads that are working so unexpectedly well that welfare is now the spine of Romney’s 2012 on-air message in the battleground states.

So ... I'm not racist, I just focus my campaign on people who are. Yeah, that's tricky all right. It fits right into the model I put forward last week in How Lies Work.

With the death of Neil Armstrong, we're down to eight living people who have walked on the Moon. The youngest will turn 77 in a few weeks, so we're maybe 10-20 years from seeing this human experience recede into the past. "Look on my works, ye Mighty ..."

A guy gets one of those obviously bogus many-thousands-of-dollars checks in a direct-mail pitch. It's marked "non-negotiable" and everything, but on a lark he deposits it at an ATM, certain that any day he'll get a notice saying the check has bounced. And then nothing happens for a long, long time ...

More music. If the rich are going to fight a class war this intensely, maybe the rest of us need to get our act together. "It's time to clean that guillotine ..."

And keeping with the French Revolution musical theme, a full chorus does "One Term More" a la Les Miz.

And then there's "Romney Girl" (to the tune of "Barbie Girl"), who perfectly illustrates the point National Review was making:

From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote. All of it. He should get Michelle Obama’s vote.

Because really, deep down, aren't American women just look for a dominant male? Or is that just latent homosexual National Review writers?

Finally, when Romney started editing video of Obama, I don't think he realized it would lead to this:

Yale history professor Beverley Gage asks an interesting question: Sure there are liberal books, but why isn't there a liberal canon? You know -- a short list of books that everybody in the movement either has read or feels guilty about not having read. Conservatives have Atlas Shrugged, The Road to Serfdom, Free to Choose, and a few others. There really aren't any liberal books that play the same role.

My opinion: Liberals have a different relationship to texts. We're not looking for political scripture. To tell the truth, most of us are ambivalent about scripture in general. Christian liberals usually aren't literal-minded about the Bible either.

But conservatives resonate with the idea that Ultimate Truth got written down years ago. "Here! Read it! It will change your life."

Speaking of a different relationship to texts, James Martin, author of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything, writes the gospel the way it would have been if Jesus had been a modern-day conservative. (This gives me a chance to re-plug my corporate rewrite of Genesis.)

When Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson denounced Barack Obama in a Newsweek cover article, the reaction across the internet was: Seriously?

The head-scratching didn't come from Ferguson opposing Obama; almost half the country is against Obama. But such a distinguished scholar mangling his facts and using obvious rhetorical tricks to hide the weakness of the case he's making? Doubling down with more deception when he's caught? What's up with that? It's embarrassing. (Newsweek was embarrassed too; it had to admit that it doesn't fact-check.)

After apologizing to the country on behalf of the Harvard community, alum James Fallows speculated:
I wonder if one of Ferguson's students will have the panache to turn in a similar paper to see how it fares.

It took Esquire's Stephen Marche to solve the mystery of the sophomoric professor. He followed the money.
Look at [Ferguson's] speaking agent's Web site. The fee: 50 to 75 grand per appearance. That number means that the entire economics of Ferguson's writing career, and many other writing careers, has been permanently altered. Nonfiction writers can and do make vastly more, and more easily, than they could ever make any other way, including by writing bestselling books or being a Harvard professor. Articles and ideas are only as good as the fees you can get for talking about them. They are merely billboards for the messengers.

That number means that Ferguson doesn't have to please his publishers; he doesn't have to please his editors; he sure as hell doesn't have to please scholars. He has to please corporations and high-net-worth individuals, the people who can pay 50 to 75K to hear him talk. That incredibly sloppy article was a way of communicating to them: I am one of you. I can give a great rousing talk about Obama's failures at any event you want to have me at.

It's just one more example of the difference between a market economy (where markets set prices) and a market society (where everything is for sale).

One more example: You can hire people to post good reviews of your book on Amazon. If you totally sell out, reviewing is way more lucrative than writing.

1 comment:

Ramseyman said...

Just to set the record straight, I doubt that anyone named Akin had anything to do with inspiring any aspect of the Coochwatch video to which you linked. The folks who put this together are seasoned activists who have been on a roll since the 2 mega-protests earlier this year here in Richmond. In fact, some of it was filmed on the very spot where 32 people were arrested this spring for "trespassing" at the VA. Capitol. Currently, that struggle is in the middle of dealing with Cooch's attempts to use the VA. Board of Health to close existing abortion clinics, and the lyrics in the video deal directly with that. It is one of a number of videos that have been created this year to publicise upcoming protests.