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Archive for the ‘fun with conservatives’ Category

Glenn Beck, consider yourself on notice.

You denounced $500,000 in government subsidies to help the National Czech and Slovak Museum after it was hit by massive flooding in Cedar Rapids as one of your stupid, ill-informed examples of “waste” in how taxpayer dollars are spent?

$500,000 for exhibits at the Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids — what about the Serb, Croatian and Albanian exhibits? Don’t we care about them?

While I’m a bit surprised you managed to name three separate East-Central European ethnic groups (I honestly didn’t think you were that knowledgeable), your snide rhetorical question lacks any logic.

Do us a favor: when it comes to a question about which you know little or nothing, just keep your mouth shut.

(Yes, I realize this means you’ll have to be silent pretty much all the time. That’s the point.)

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Now, I know the NYT isn’t necessarily going to produce the most insightful reporting on the Tea Party movement, and articles with headlines like “With No Job, Time for Tea Party” smack of elitist smugness.

Still, it’s hard not to think that this air of condescension isn’t warranted, when you read about some of the illogic at work in the minds of Tea Partiers.

For instance, this story refers to a woman from the Philadelphia area, Diana Reimer, as one of the “stars” in the effort of a Tea Party group called FreedomWorks to fight health care reform.

On the one hand, you have to respect someone willing to toil so hard for a cause in which she believes.

Ms. Reimer often wells up talking about her work. “I’m respected,” she said, her voice breaking. “I don’t know why. I don’t know what is so special. But I’m willing to do it.”

On the other hand, you’d like to see a little more thought and reason put into that cause and her efforts to advance it.

She and others who receive government benefits like Medicare and Social Security said they paid into those programs, so they are getting what they deserve. [Emphasis added.]

“All I know is government was put here for certain reasons,” Ms. Reimer said. “They were not put here to run banks, insurance companies, and health care and automobile companies. They were put here to keep us safe.”

She has no patience for the Obama administration’s bailouts and its actions on health care. “I just don’t trust this government,” Ms. Reimer said.

So much to parse. There’s the objectionable premise that only those who “paid” into entitlement programs are, well, entitled to collect those benefits. By this logic, public education is a crock since there aren’t a whole lot of first-graders paying the property taxes that support their education. (And yes, I’m aware that most kids’ parents are paying in some form or another for the property taxes that finance public schools. But if you have to make that kind of a retort, it just illustrates how torturous your logic is.)

Then there’s also the part about finding it OK to accept Medicare while simultaneously railing against government-sponsored and -funded health care.

Honestly, we ought simply to repay these people the money they “paid” into the Medicare and Social Security systems over the years, then let them fend for themselves in the eternally virtuous free market when it comes to health care and retirement income. Maybe they won’t think so harshly of government involvement in health care when they find no corporation willing to insure a senior citizen without premiums that are astronomical above and beyond the currently stratospheric levels.

Then there’s Jeff McQueen, who got involved with Tea Partying in the Rust Belt after losing his job in auto parts sales.

He blames the government for his unemployment. “Government is absolutely responsible, not because of what they did recently with the car companies, but what they’ve done since the 1980s,” he said. “The government has allowed free trade and never set up any rules.”

He and others do not see any contradictions in their arguments for smaller government even as they argue that it should do more to prevent job loss or cuts to Medicare. After a year of angry debate, emotion outweighs fact.

If you don’t trust the mindset or the value system of the people running the system, you can’t even look at the facts anymore,” Mr. Grimes said. [Emphasis added.]

Well, you certainly can’t reason — or argue — with that (il-)logic. Though I do think it nicely encapsulates a problem pervasive in politics of all persuasions, and why it’s increasingly difficult to find any sort of common political ground on anything. After all, if you don’t share the mindset and value system of the person dispensing the facts, then you just can’t be bothered with facts.

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There’s nothing that raises hackles like some stupid nationalistic law trying to compel patriotism.

This week it happened in Slovakia, where the ruling left-wing/nationalist coalition passed a “law on patriotism” that requires students at all state schools and universities to sing the national hymn at the beginning of each week, as well as promoting the Slovak flag and other national symbols.

The new law isn’t universally popular within Slovakia, where people in some quarters are complaining about the effort to mandate this kind of patriotic ritual.

Moreover, the law is raising alarms among Slovakia’s neighbors. In Austria, an editorial this week responded to the patriotism law by describing Bratislava as “Pyongyang on the Danube.” I haven’t seen any reports about the reaction from Hungary, but it’s pretty clear that the language law, which looks like yet another sop by Prime Minister Robert Fico’s left-wing party Smer to the right-wing Slovak National Party, notorious for its baiting of Slovakia’s Magyar minority (as well as the Roma population).

Of course, it’s also interesting to see the backlash to the law, then to think about how American schools arguably take it further. I think we said the Pledge of Allegiance every day I was in public school, though I suppose there’s no federal law requiring recitation of the pledge, as far as I know. Then there was that whole period in fourth grade, during Gulf War I, when Mrs. Banks had our class signing Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” almost daily.

I guess, again, the operative difference is the element of legal compulsion. Still, it’s not like most schoolchildren are really old enough or informed enough to decide for themselves whether they want to participate in such nationalistic rituals.

Plus, it would be hilarious if, for instance, the Globe and Mail took to referring to D.C. as “Pyongyang on the Potomac.” It has a ring to it.

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What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?

Apparently a lot more than lipstick, if Sarah Palin is the “hockey mom,” or so says Levi Johnston in a Vanity Fair interview.

That’s just one of the insights Johnston provides in an interview that pretty much confirms the Palins aren’t the great parents they’d have us believe.

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Buried in this story about the Obama girls’ summer travels and activities is some of the criticism of the First Family’s jetsetting.

Last month, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, said the president had some “nerve” to be sightseeing in Paris while insisting that Congress should focus on overhauling health care.

Right. And I’m sure stealing away a couple of days from a working trip to join his family for a few hours of R&R qualifies as excessive. With that kind of attitude, Grassley must positively resent the working stiffs who insist on taking two days off every week! Slackers.

Then there’s this critique, which sounds fair on the surface.

John Baer, a columnist at The Philadelphia Daily News, recently pondered what parents who had lost their jobs and been forced to cancel their family vacations would make of the president’s plans to savor some family time on Martha’s Vineyard this month.

“Those who view Obama as an elitist will have new ammunition,” Mr. Baer wrote.

Oh, but what about Obama’s predecessor, George the 43rd? Dubya merely set a record for vacation days taken by a sitting president by spending the better part of three years of his presidency “clearing brush” at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. How many folks get to spend more than a third of their working years on holiday?

And, for the record, Dubya broke the vacation time record previously set by another paragon of presidential industriousness, Ronald Reagan, the Great Nap-taker.

And, of course, Dubya took plenty of presidential visits to the family compound at Kennebunkport, which is scarcely less elitist than Martha’s Vineyard.

But somehow the Bushes get to be “regular folks,” despite the silver spoons and commitment to recreation, while the self-made Obama gets excoriated for elitism when he deigns to take a few brief respites?

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… miss offensive historical references.

The publisher of a newspaper in Warren, Pa., is scrambling to apologize after the paper’s advertising staff ran a classified ad calling for Barack Obama’s assassination.

The text of the ad:

May Obama follow in the steps of Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy!

According to the publisher, the ad staff didn’t realize that Obama’s four would-be predecessors were all, you know, assassinated.

Of course, C speculates that given the paper’s location in a rural, redneck area of northwest Pennsylvania, it’s plausible the advertising staff simply agreed with the sentiment.

I for one am just waiting for the cries of outrage and indignation from the “media personalities” who routinely decry the liberal media for hating on America.

(Crickets.)

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I love this story about how a class of Fordham law students has managed to cheese Antonin Scalia.

See, back in January, Scalia told a Talmudic law institute it was “silly” to think all pieces of information about a person — like, say, a home address — should be considered private, since free speech wins out.

* Unless, of course, the free speech is a derivative of a certain four-letter word and is uttered on a live TV broadcast in prime time.

So, a law professor at Fordham decided to put Scalia’s ideas to the test, giving his class an assignment to compile a dossier of information, which they proceeded to send to Scalia for his reaction.

Turns out, Scalia didn’t find that amusing.

I stand by my remark at the Institute of American and Talmudic Law conference that it is silly to think that every single datum about my life is private. I was referring, of course, to whether every single datum about my life deserves privacy protection in law.

It is not a rare phenomenon that what is legal may also be quite irresponsible. That appears in the First Amendment context all the time. What can be said often should not be said. Prof. Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.

Takes one with poor judgment to know one, eh, Tony?

I’m curious to think what Scalia thought of his inclusion in a very special, “private” photo spread on page 99 of America: The Book.

Or maybe he also doesn’t recognize satire.

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