16 February, 2009

Happy Hour Discurso

Today's opining on the public discourse.

The Cons are just getting more and more surreal in their antics:

The House Republican Whips released a video this morning, bragging like conquering heroes about their unanimous rejection of the economic stimulus package last week. It's possible the GOP base will love it -- rocking out to "Back in the Saddle" while reading party talking points -- but I found it kind of embarrassing. As Jason Zengerle explained, "[I]t's basically a litany of every tired, failed GOP buzzword (from ACORN to golf carts), all set to the tune of ... Aerosmith.... [Y]ears from now, when historians are trying to sort out what went so terribly wrong with conservatism in the early twenty-first century, I really hope this little video doesn't get overlooked."


"Back in the Saddle"? More like, "Dream on."
Indeed. I don't even know what to say. When we elect adults to national office, we expect them to act like adults - now we're getting a bunch of obstructionist dumbshits who make music videos celebrating their own stupidity. It's bizarre.

Former President Bill Clinton said it best:

On Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said that President Obama is off to a bad start in part because Obama didn’t “sit down together” with Republicans (even though he did). Today, CNN asked President Clinton to respond to McCain, and Clinton ripped the GOP as being simply “automatic” in its opposition to Obama’s agenda:
CLINTON: [T]here’s 100 economic studies which show that you get a better return in terms of economic growth on extending unemployment benefits or investing money in energy conservation jobs to improve buildings than you do giving people in my income group a tax cut. But it doesn’t stop them. Those guys are on automatic. You punch a button and they give the answer they give you.

We could replace every Con in the House with a robot that just said "Tax Cuts!" in response to every argument and question, and get the same damned result.

And what the fuck is up with Eric Cantor trying to go all Churchill? The fuckwit doesn't even know what party Churchill belonged to:

Apparently, when the House Minority Whip isn't seeking guidance from Newt Gingrich, he's reading up on Winston Churchill.
...Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House minority whip who led the fight to deny Obama every GOP vote for the plan, is studying Winston Churchill's role leading the Tories in the late 1930s, a principled minority that was eventually catapulted into power over the Labor Party.

There's no direct quote in the paragraph, so it's not clear who's misstating history, but Josh Marshall sets the record straight.

In the late 1930s, of course, Great Britain didn't have a Labour government with a principled Tory minority. It had conservative Tory government with a Labour minority. And Churchill was on the outs with both, although on some fronts he was beginning to make common cause with some Labourites on his key issue, which was foreign policy. When Churchill eventually came to power it was in a national coalition government for the purposes of fighting the war. And when he eventually went to the voters as head of the Tory party toward the end of the war they got crushed by Labour in a landslide.

I say all this as a big Churchill fan. But, I mean, not only is Eric Cantor no Winston Churchill, I'm not even sure he's read a book about Winston Churchill.

Myself, I'm not even sure he can read.

George Will certainly can't:

Looks like Fred Barnes isn't the only high-profile conservative columnist still arguing that climate change doesn't really exist.

Over the weekend, the Washington Post's George Will, got in on the act. And it took us about ten minutes -- longer, it appears, than the Post's editors spent -- to figure out that Will, like Barnes, was essentially making stuff up.

Both of Will's major "data points" fall apart after a moment's scrutiny.

Here's the first:

According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.

But within hours of Will's column appearing, the ACRC had posted the following statement on its website:

We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.

It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.

So, nevermind then.

As for Will's second claim, he writes:

[A]ccording to the World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade.

This one is a little more complicated. But only a little.

Will's claim appears to come from a BBC News article from way back in April 2008, whose first version reported:

Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

The World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

It's true that temperatures haven't risen since 1998, because that year was a particularly hot one. But as anyone with a high-school level grasp of statistics understands, you need to look at data over a broad period to get a realistic assessment of what's going on. In fact, the WMO itself made that very point in an "information note" that confirmed that the organization believes global warming is continuing, and pointed out that the last decade has been the warmest on record.

The WMO wrote:

The long-term upward trend of global warming, mostly driven by greenhouse gas emissions, is continuing. Global temperatures in 2008 are expected to be above the long-term average. The decade from 1998 to 2007 has been the warmest on record, and the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C since the beginning of the 20th Century. [...] "For detecting climate change you should not look at any particular year, but instead examine the trends over a sufficiently long period of time. The current trend of temperature globally is very much indicative of warming," World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General, Mr Michel Jarraud said in response to media inquiries on current temperature "anomalies".
These fuckwits are illiterate on economic issues and climate change. But as far as sheer magnitude of dumbfuckery, they've got stiff competition coming from the Tennessee State House:

As is often the case, the line between Republican satire and Republican reality is often blurred -- some of the president's GOP detractors really are nuts. (via Mahablog)

Four Tennessee state representatives, all Republicans, have signed up to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit against President Barack Obama, aimed at forcing him to prove he is a United States citizen by coughing up his birth certificate.

Let me just say what all the world is now thinking, including their fellow Republicans on the Hill: This is dumber than a box of rocks.

Tennessee Reps. Eric Swafford, Stacey Campfield, Glen Casada and Frank Nicely now have a giant "G" on their foreheads for "Gullible." The four were so willing to drink the craziest flavor of Kool-Aid, they've gotten themselves caught up in a national urban legend that has been thoroughly debunked.

What's next? A resolution honoring the Easter Bunny for doing such a great job with the annual colored egg delivery system? A proposed law asking these four to prove they have a brain?

Apparently, some yahoo in California is filing another lawsuit challenging Obama's presidential eligibility. Some Republican lawmakers in the Volunteer State, including the GOP caucus chairman of the Tennessee House, are using their positions to not only endorse the baseless case, but also pledging to be plaintiffs in the litigation.

Once again, I am left speechless in the presence of awe-inspiring insanity. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you today's Republicon party: now with more lunacy.

Please oh please let the electorate be in the mood for cold, hard sanity in 2010.


Woozle said...

Re global warming: oh man, take a look at this, and my preliminary analysis of it (which, realistically, I probably won't have time to do much more on).

MFC (My Father the Conservative) handed an 8.5"x11" glossy full-color publication entitled "Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate", which he had been given at some conservative get-together (I'll have to ask which one -- probably either Locke or the Torch Club). He seemed to find it quite credible because the editor, Fred Singer, is a university scientist (though I wasn't clear on whether he actually knows Singer personally).

This thing looked to be at least $12.95 retail, if it was something anyone would actually want to buy -- but they were apparently giving them away at random.

The first link is that document as a PDF, minus the covers. While Googling the title in order to find that link, however, I found the vast extent to which it had been distributed in the right web-and-blogosphere -- including climate denial sites I hadn't heard of, anti-environmental sites, religion-based "earth stewardship" sites which seem to think "stewardship" means "use it so as to carefully and lovingly nurture and maximize corporate profit" (at least, that was my impression), uber-patriotic sites claiming that GW is a plot to impose global rule... many of the sites featuring comments to the effect that "you know the mainstream media won't cover this! And if they do, they'll report it wrong and liberally bias it!"

Ye gods.

I also noticed that many of the same names keep popping up on the advisory boards of the various "global warming skepticism" groups, but I didn't have time to really research this thoroughly.

Oh, and Singer has all kinds of ties to Exxon/Mobil and other interest-conflicting groups. He has no business claiming to be objective on this issue, or putting himself in a position where it might be assumed that he represents an unbiased scientific opinion.

These people have way too much money, and they are spending like mad to keep the "controversy" alive... and it seems to be working.

And after all that, I still haven't had time to examine the arguments in the actual publication itself -- which many of the sites claim is an "easy read". An easy read!! Yeah, right, and Reagan was a great president, the New Deal made the Depression worse, and Democrats are shredding the Constitution... oh, riiiight, this is conservatives we're talking about, and they do have a strange idea of reality. (Or are they trying to push people's insecurity buttons -- "This is supposedly an easy read... so if I find it baffling and confusing, there must be something wrong with me..."? Seems likely.)

Efrique said...

Yeah, recently I've been thinking of posting how the Republicans are the Talkie Toaster of taxes.

(Minor Warning - in the transcript-extracts at the first link, they mistakenly transcribe "Breville" as "brabble".)

Efrique said...

Dammit, that was meant to say ... of tax cuts.

Oh well.

Cujo359 said...

It's an apt metaphor, Efrique. Economy in the dumps? How about a nice tax cut? Going to war? I'm sure you'd love a tax cut with that!