Daily Archives: March 22nd, 2010

Tanks a lot, China

Dear China: Please suck on this image of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

I can’t imagine why you don’t want your citizens to be able to view this picture on the internet.

Oh yeah. In other news, Google pulls out of China. Sorry, Google. It’s a little too late for that. China is already pregnant.

Also, please stop sending your plastic toys and other pieces of shit. I’m suffering from a massive case of DO NOT WANT.

Did something happen?

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated

I fired up my internet this morning and immediately noticed something was askew. I logged into my favorite forum and was blasted with frothing post after post about the Constitution and quotations from our founding fathers.

“The Constitution has been killed!”

“The Constitution is now tissue paper!”

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams

Uh oh! Something must have happened. Gee. Whatever could it be?

Was it the Patriot Act? Is that up for renewal? The same Patriot Act that my bank claimed prohibited the act of signing over a check to a new payee, something I had done since I was a wee small child?

Hmm. Nothing in the news about the Patriot Act right now. Gosh golly gee whillikers. I am so befuddled on this one.

We all know the real reason for the decidedly ramped up fever pitch I encountered this morning within my first 30 seconds of using the internet without really looking: The House of Representatives voted and approved the health care reform bill last night.

The patient has money? Good catch, nurse! Go ahead and triple his bill.

Is the bill perfect? Hardly. But it estimated that when it goes into effect approx. 95% of Americans will have health care. Jeez. And that’s supposed to be the best we can do?

Personally I’ve worked full time since the day I turned 16 and I currently have none. Convicted repeat felons in prison have better access to health care than I do. I am the wretched refuse. Changing jobs shouldn’t mean putting your life at risk.

So, for me, the big question now is: Just how hard will I have to work to maintain my uninsured status. Because you can bet your ass when the dust settles I will somehow be one of the lucky five percent. I like to be special.

The AMA signed off on health care but that hardly meant the nation was in agreement. In recent weeks I’ve heard both sides claiming that they held that hill. “58% will be angry or disappointed if Congress stops working on health care reform,” claimed one side. “Americans overwhelming oppose the plan,” said the other. It was hard for a loyal and true American to know which end was up.

I think it was safe to say our country was and still is “divided” on the issue. So how will this pan out? We’ll have to wait and see. But it’s also safe to say that other major pieces of legislation in our nation’s history, like Social Security, Medicaid and welfare reform enjoyed more bipartisan support than what his enemies disdainfully refer to as “Obamacare.” That makes the way health care reform came into being somewhat unique.

A plethora of news stories tell us that “most” Americans know there are serious problems with the current system. Unfortunately it seems we are incapable of deciding what to do about it. I’m just glad we did something.

Nobody, not even Obama, thinks this is a magical solution. Now we will see the acrimony ramped up to record levels of froth. We will hear lies. There will be more protests and more tasteless and offensive signs. There will be lawsuits. And, over time, hopefully the system will begin to incrementally make things better for most of us. No doubt it can be tweaked and improved to work out some of the current flaws.

Good luck, health care reform. You’re gonna need it.

Politics ad hominem as usual?

An idea has been percolating in my head for some time and the other day it finally went off like a light bulb.

It’s this notion of what I’m calling “personal attack politics.” A lot of people are spending a lot of time and effort to convince me that:

President Barack Obama is a bad person.

Eye catching, isn’t it? I guess it isn’t too surprising that some would be out peddling a message like this in our fast-paced, talking point, sound-bite culture.

Imagine, if you will, that you are the teacher for a debate class. Two of your students are given an assignment called The Great Food Debate: One student is pro-hamburger and the other is pro-hot dog. This is going to be one interesting debate! 🙂

Hamburger kid goes first and talks about the popularity of hamburgers, how round patties are more efficient than cylindrical-shaped meat, says that hamburgers had better condiment containment, and even has data and graphs to illustrate his points.

The other kid, however, doesn’t talk about hot dogs at all. He starts off by saying that his opponent’s father is an alumni and donated money to the school and that’s the only reason he’s even in this debate. He talks about how “everyone” on campus considers his opponent to be a super nerd and makes fun of the way he’s dressed. And in his closing argument he says that anyone who votes for his opponent is a big nerd, too.

After watching this “debate” and as the teacher of the class, would you feel proud if your students voted the hot dog kid as the winner? I don’t think so.

Personal attacks do little to further understanding in a debate. Nothing that the hot dog kid had to say offered any information or rebuttal regarding the factual claims about hamburgers made by his opponent.

Personal attacks have been around for a long time. In Latin they are known as ad hominem.

So what are some of the personal attacks against Obama:

  • He uses a teleprompter.
  • He’s an empty suit.
  • He’s too smooth.
  • He came from the Chicago “machine.”
  • He bowed to someone, or he shouldn’t have bowed, or he bowed too deeply.
  • He’s a socialist.
  • He wants to destroy America.
  • He’s a “militant racist.”

If you need more examples of ad hominem (and sometimes not-so-veiled threats of violence) against Obama, just look for the most offensive signs at tea party rallies and such:

  • I didn’t vote for the socialist – you can keep the change
  • Fire Line Do Not Cross: If Brown can’t stop it a Browning can (includes picture of a handgun)
  • We came unarmed (this time)
  • One Big Ass Mistake America
  • You Can’t Fix Stupid – But You Can Vote It Out – Change Is Brewing
  • Freedom Will Be Defended
  • Revolt Against Socialism
  • Obama is a Very Bad Man (link)
  • Obama’s Plan: White Slavery

These are the same signs that, when singled out after the fact for criticism, we’re told, “Oh, that sign doesn’t represent the movement.” Yet, somehow, the people holding those signs are never asked to leave or take down their signs by the other tea party protesters all around them. I’ve never heard a single story about an offensive sign being removed from a tea party event. Those signs being allowed to remain represents the tacit consent of those in the vicinity and the movement itself.

In the interest of fairness, I just googled up one example of a sign ejection. Yeah! A guy who is a tea party activist and runs a tea party web site and claimed to be a tea party “founder” was apparently kicked out of a Houston tea party event last year for an offensive sign. I won’t bother to repeat it here.

Politics can be murky and messy. “A tax cut for the wealthiest among us is the best way to help America!” That’s what Bush said (and did) in early 2001. Agree with it or not, at least it is a “factual claim” that can be debated.

I believe that if we want what is best for our country we need more discussion of the issues and less time spent on personal attacks. Keep an eye out for the personal attacks on Obama. If you filter those out, you  might be surprised how little those that are throwing the attacks really have to say.