I Feel So Safe!

TopCare Tussin DMI have had a very bad cough for almost three months now. I went to doctor and she told me if it didn’t go away in another month, I should come back. I figure I have tuberculosis and there is just a conspiracy of silence because everyone thinks that I don’t want to die. The fools! I laugh death. I guffaw at the grave. I snicker at slaughter. I chuckle at ceasing. I would do a good deal more if there were more matching synonyms for death and laugh![1]

But today I broke down and went to the store to get some generic Robitussin, which in this case turned out to be TopCare Tussin DM. And I was immediately annoyed. I get the damned thing home and I take it out of the box. The sealed box! And of course the bottle inside has its cap sealed in place. After all, some maniac could have taken the bottle out of the box, put poison in it and then glued the box back. I would have never known! I might have died peacefully in my sleep having never had to live blog the State of the Union address over at The Reaction (which was my idea, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying).

After clawing at the plastic on the bottle for five minutes like I’m a brain damaged kitten, I finally get to the cap. Then, after another five minutes, I manage to get the cap off, which was just one of those push down and turn numbers, but for whatever reason it was really hard to do. I assume they make it this way so that potential poisoners will be dissuaded. So finally, I have the top off and…

There is another safety cap on the bottle top!

This, of course, is to protect against the case when the poisoner gets the bottle out of box. Then he gets the plastic doohickey off the cap. Then he gets past the poisoner protection cap. But he finds that last bit of cardboard and screams, “Foiled again!”

I feel so god damned protected, I could scream from joy! (Well, I could scream anyway.)

[1] Or you might say that death is my bread and danger my butter:

American Imperialism

Cenk UygurCenk Uygur said something on The Young Turk about America that is a common sentiment, especially liberals: people all over the world love our culture and if only we just lived up to our ideals, everyone would love America. I used to believe this. But it is total bullshit. On the show, this is demonstrated by Syrian soldiers dancing to an Usher song.

The problem is that Syrian soldiers dancing to an Usher song and Afghanistani peasants being bombed by US drones is all part of American imperialism. In general, we don’t occupy countries like the British Empire. Instead, we install or otherwise empower foreign governments that allow American imports. (Think: Opium Wars.)

In general, people like the art that they are familiar with. Under normal circumstances, Syrians would like Syrian artists. America is very good at creating least common denominator art. But they are far better at marketing that art. And in a very real way, that marketing comes from the barrel of a gun.

So it is not a matter of other cultures really wanting to love America if it weren’t for our aggressive and immoral foreign policy. These cultures love and hate us for exactly the same reasons. If we stopped bombing them (which we should do) they would mostly go back to being indifferent towards us. And that is how it ought to be.


Here is the clip from the show:

Rove Can’t Change Republican Voters

Nate SilverNate Silver wrote a very interesting article that goes right along with something I’ve been thinking, New Rove Group Could Backfire on G.O.P. He goes into a lot of detail, but basically his argument is that lack of money is not the reason that establishment candidates lost primaries. This ought to go without saying; by definition the establishment candidates are going to have more money. Still, it is surprising just how big the difference is. Of the 23 races he looked at, the median establishment candidate funding was $3 million compared to the median “outsider” candidate funding of a bit less than $400,000—a 7.5 fold advantage for the establishment candidates.

There is one overwhelming reason that this funding is a bad idea: the optics. The sad truth of the Tea Party people is that they think of themselves as anti-establishment even while all of their policy preferences are elitist. “We’ve got to stop those establishment politicians from being so mean to those billionaires!” So as a result, the more an “establishment” candidate is pushed via the media, the more the base will rebel.

He notes that there is a weak correlation between campaign contributions and winning. But as Ezra Klein has written a lot about (So much so that I can’t find a link!) the causation is probably reversed. When people see that a candidate is likely to win, they contribute more. So that isn’t probably that big a deal, if it is an issue at all. What’s more important is that marginal cash expenditures are less and less valuable. Thus: the first $100,000 a candidate spends is far more valuable than the fortieth.

What this all means is that the Republicans are likely to go on nominating poor candidates. This will happen as long as the Republican base is kept radicalized by Fox News and hate radio. And truly, I don’t see how this will change any time soon. Liberals are open to change by definition. What’s more, liberals are open to facts. Conservatives? I think it is hopeless as long as the Republican Party continues to not be routed.

Silly Pope, Evil Pope

We Have a PopeI was raised Catholic, so I have a certain fondness for the church. But it more than this. The truth is that I like the idea of religions being old. So the Catholic and Orthodox churches strike me as more valid. The idea that one would reform these churches but only do it around the edges as happened with Protestantism, strikes me as kind of pathetic. And let’s face it, the Catholic Church is wonderfully, hilariously ridiculous. The whole thing with the censer during mass? That’s some seriously medieval stage craft there!

This all comes to mind since Cardinal Ratzinger has announced he is stepping down from the Pope gig. I think this is great. We need special occasions and the choosing of another Pope is a great opportunity. I also like that it highlights some of the nuttier aspects of the Pope gig. Think about it: how can he step down when he is infallible? Now we’re supposed to believe that he will be infallible just up through the end of the month? And clearly, his body is fallible, because that’s his reason for stepping down. (If he dies before the end of the month, I will rethink God’s existence, because that would be just like Him.)

All of this is not to take away from the many church controversies. My biggest problem is the church’s stand on condoms. How many millions of people have died as a direct result of this? It is unconscionable, and really deprives the church of any moral authority in my mind.

But much more talked about, if on a smaller scale in terms of number of victims, are the child rape cases and the church’s culpability in them. (In its defense, this seems to be a problem with all churches and similar institutions to one degree or another.) But occasional contributor Mike Blottin directed me to Tim Minchin who puts this subject into perspective in a musical form.

Note that this applies much more to the “nice” Pope John Paul II than to the “angry” Pope Benedict XVI. But in terms of taking these guys seriously at this point, Minchin is totally correct: fuck the motherfuckers!

Unreasonable Reasonable Republicans

Joe ScarboroughDo you know who is a real Reasonable Republican? Joe Scarborough. And that pretty much explains why the search for the lauded Reasonable Republican is such a foolish errand. When you find them, they simply have all the stupid policy prescriptions of other Republicans but they don’t think that rape victims ought to have to carry their pregnancies to term.

Of course, in Scarborough’s case, since he isn’t in office, his thinking has been heavily influenced by the Very Serious People in Washington. This was fully on display a couple of weeks ago when Paul Krugman came on Morning Joe to discuss the economy. Scarborough just could not understand what Krugman was talking about. How could the budget deficit not be the most important issue facing the nation when everyone Joe knows thinks it is?!

You think I’m kidding? After the show, Scarborough took to Politico to write a column, Paul Krugman Vs. the World. In it, he wrote:

But maintaining calm was not as easy for Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass, who agrees with former Joint Chief chairman Michael Mullen, that longterm debt poses the greatest threat to America ‘s national security.

In other words: “I’ve talked to other people who know nothing about economics and they agree with me!”

Yesterday, Jonathan Chait took Scarborough to task for his most recent rant, Wow, Joe Scarborough Doesn’t Understand Economics at All. In this case, Scarborough is attacking Nancy Pelosi for saying two things that are, you know, facts. The first thing is that going forward, we don’t have a Medicare problem, we have a healthcare problem. Unless we get healthcare costs under control, in a few decades, Medicare will be the least of our problems.

But the biggest thing that Scarborough did was good old fashioned Republican deception. He argued that Pelosi was saying that there is no spending problem. And that Eric Cantor is the reasonable one. The truth is exactly the opposite. Pelosi is claiming that we have to deal with our deficit problem through spending cuts and revenue increases. (I disagree with this conclusion, but that’s her claim.) Eric Cantor is claiming that we only have a spending problem and that we must cut the deficit through spending cuts alone.

That’s a Reasonable Republican for you! If a Democrat claims 0 and a Republican claims 10, split it right down the middle: 10. What’s most telling about all of this Joe Scarborough nonsense over the last couple of weeks, is that no facts seem to be able to make it past his protective barrier. Now if only women had that same defense against rapists’ sperm, the Republicans might have something.

Update (13 February 2013 4:41 pm)

Here it is, thanks for commenter LiberalANDProud below, the best smack down of Joe Scarborough ever. You can skip to about 6:45.