Realistic Assessment Of One’s Electoral Prospects FAIL

Huffington Post is reporting something that only makes sense in a world without the internet* – Apparently Alec Baldwin, hilarious actor, but not-so-hilarious angry MRA douchebag, is indulging the fantasy that he could possibly win an election:

Playboy: Will you run for office?

Baldwin: I’ll put it this way. The desire is there… I have sometimes thought I could move to New Jersey or Connecticut and run. I’d love to run against Joe Lieberman. I have no use for him. But it’s all fantasy. I’m a carry-me-out-in-a-box New Yorker. Here, anything can happen. Who thought Eliot Spitzer would go down the way he did? Senator Hillary Clinton left to serve as secretary of state. Two of the biggest forces gone. Maybe Andrew Cuomo will run for one of their old seats. How much longer will Chuck Schumer stay as senator? After 2013 Bloomberg will be gone. What happens then?

Do I run for Congress on Long Island? What’s Tim Bishop going to do? He represents my district. People get sick, die. They’re offered lucrative deals and want to cash in and make money for their retirement. People misstep. Unfortunately, an opportunity for me may mean bad things for someone else. I don’t wish that.

Okay, as much as replacing Joe Lieberman with someone who isn’t an evil corporate whore-slash-evil warmongering liar appeals to me, Alec Baldwin needs to stay in an industry more forgiving of, ahem, the personal failings of difficult people. However, in case Alec doesn’t understand why he’d lose faster than you can say “Nobody wants to end the war more than I do”, I give you the only commercial Baldwin’s opponents will ever need:

Give up the dream, please. Please.

*Remember – on the internet, everything is forever.

I Kan Haz Birth Certificate?

So, once upon a time, there were three kinds of Bigots:

1) Out and Proud.

These guys love being prejudiced, and want everyone to know it. They like to say things like “I hate the [expletive deleted] [racial/religious/social group] and want them eliminated.” These people used to join the Klan. Some still do, but that level of organized racism against African Americans is way uncool now, so they’ve replaced it with hatred of Muslims, or they join the National Organization for Marriage.

2) On the Down-Low.

Down-Low bigots are smart enough to know it’s not okay to be a bigot, but too stupid to understand that the problem people have with bigots is the bigotry, not the rude language. They typically keep quiet until they’re fairly certain they’re in a room full of like minded haters, at which point they cannot wait to let out what they’ve been thinking in private, usually with a creepy joke. Otherwise, they tend to couch their hate behind pretentions of having reached their views via rational thought and real world experience (always failing to acknowledge that they simply found a way to sexy up their tiny minds with big words and ex post facto deduction.) They also tend to be libertarian.

You remember that one asshole back in the day who liked to say things like “Oh, I used to believe what you think about [racial/religious/social group], but then I got out in the real world and now I know the truth. They really are as [dumb/evil/desirous of raping white women/predatory] as people say.” This is his category.

The biggest problem they have is that they don’t normally get to be in a room full of like minded haters, and the rest of us just aren’t as obsessed with the objects of their resentment as they are. This makes convenient “since you asked” opportunities to hate with educated language a very rare commodity. Therefore, the pressure of having to appear sane in front of the normals inevitably leads to unusual outbursts – for instance, while employed as an ESPN commentator, they accuse the the NFL of reverse discrimination for hiring a black quarterback.

Typically, they act shocked and offended when actually called out on their bigotry. Of course, what they really offends them is that they can’t be type #1. And also that Obama was born in the US.

3) In-denial:

These pitiful people have internalized cultural notions about the essential wrongness of bigotry, but still have volumes of unexamined anger and resentment inside them. They cope by relying on a bizarre, passive-aggressive method of expressing these feelings: comfortably using language similar to that of people opposed to prejudice, in order to express their obvious-to-everyone-but-them bigotry.

They tend to say things like “there are [racial/religious/social group], and there are [horribly offensive term used by bigots to refer to said group].”, or “we ended [oppressive policy against racial/religious/social group], but [racial/religious/social group] wants to live in a perpetual victim state, acting like a bunch of [horribly offensive term used by bigots to refer to said group].”

The biggest problem engaging them is that they typically have been completely screwed over by conservative policies, and quite often lead genuinely tough lives. The hardship they’ve experienced should have triggered their latent ability to feel, but a lack of critical thinking skills, combined with a very narrow range of media exposure, channels the rage they should have for Reagan and Dubya onto Faggosexualislamic single mothers who want to take their guns. You can recognize these poor saps because unlike #1 and #2, these people actually believe that “reverse racism” exists, rather than just being a convenient euphamism for “people should know their place”.

Obviously, I’ve just described 3/4 of the Republican base.

“But Ross!”, I can hear you say. “3/4? Surely you mean 4/4, right?” Au Contrair! If you’ve learned anything from the last 8 years, it should be to never underestimate the ability of crazy wingnuts to mutate with the times, and our current times are no different from, um, other times. Since the election of Barack Obama, we have witnessed the birth and rapid development of a delightfully 21st century kind of hater.

This new model bigot is a bizarre, post-modernist combination of all three categories. This is a cognative leap previously believed (by all but the most insane psychological theoreticians) to be impossible for the human brain. It was, or so it was believed, the equivalent of simultaneously believing that Jesus and God are the same entity, and yet somehow also different entities with distinct personalities. In other words, cataclysmic Epic Logic Fail.

Enter The Internet. The vast data storage capacity of a world wide network millions of computers strong, sharing information endlessly (mostly about naked women, but never you mind just now). Add to it the perpetual motion machine that is right wing paranoia, a community of millions made up of conspiracy freaks, end timers, gun hoarders and get off my land jerks, all of them whining eternally about their lot in life, separated from 911 truthers only by their unwillingness to criticize George W. Bush.

Somehow, these two powerful entities combined in the same way bacterial life combined with Earth’s primordial soup, and the result is that the right wing brain has… evolved. I admit that it feels dirty using that word in this context, but how else do you explain it? Conservatives have shed such cumbersome hinderances to personal fulfillment as “basic empathy”, “intellectual honesty”, and “learning from mistakes”, allowing these people to live lives free of the kind of concerns normal people experience before making decisions. Liberated, they stand ready to lead America into a glorious golden age that, apparently, is a combination of Red Dawn, Casablanca and Caligula.

However, of all evolutionary advantages they have acquired, the most compelling is the development of something that philosophers and religious leaders have dreamt of since the first skeptic asked “so, how do we know that this god person actually spoke to you?”: The ability to hold contradictory thoughts in their head, at the same time, and experience absolutely no confusion or uncertainty. In short, the end of Cognitive dissonance.

Which brings us to the newest form of Bigot.

Like Type 1, they have awful, sometimes psychotic veiws and they truly do not give a frack who knows it. In fact, they’re proud of it.

Then again, like 2, they know you cannot be racist in public.

And, like Type 3, they honestly believe that they are not racist, often going so far as to insist that they are themselves the greatest defenders of the rights of the minorities and social outcasts they disparaged.

The combinations are endless and awe-inspiring. Filled with a deep seated need to share their bigoted ideas, they also long for approval and to be told that they are correct, but also moral and good. But, and this is the most important part: unlike their predecessors, they possess a curious mutation that distinguishes them from their cousins in hate – these people almost never rant and rage, except at the people who have the audacity to get offended. Instead they spew their hateful stereotypes and vile rhetoric with a mirthful, cheeky sense of humor that for some reason they think is endearing. And whenever caught, the react with an Urkel-esque “mmmdid I do thaaat?”

The most recent example is the current Vice Chair of the National Young Republicans, the wovable and adowable Audra Shay, who landed in hot water because… well, let’s let Raw Story tell it!

The Vice Chair of the Young Republicans is in political hot water after being caught laughing — and seemingly endorsing — a racist “coon” joke on her Facebook page.

“On Wednesday, Shay—a 38-year-old Army veteran, mother, and event planner from Louisiana who has been endorsed by her governor, Bobby Jindal—was holding court on her Facebook page, initiating a political conversation by posting that ‘WalMart just signed a death warrant’ by ‘endorsing Obama’s healthcare plan,’” Avlon notes. “At 1:52, a friend named listed as Eric S. Piker, but whose personal page says his actual name is Eric Pike, wrote ‘It’s the government making us commies… can’t even smoke in my damn car… whats next they going to issue toilet paper once a month… tell us how to wipe our asses…’”

Piker then posted again. “Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist,” he penned. “Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals.”

In reply, Shay wrote: “You tell em Eric! lol.”

Okay, now first I was a bit taken aback by being informed that a 38 year old woman is a member of the “Young” Republicans. I’m 35 and while I’m quite immature, “young” is something I increasingly ain’t. But then I remembered – you know how they say “anyone under 30 who isn’t a liberal doesn’t have a heart; anyone over 30 who isn’t a conservative doesn’t have a brain?” That’s 50% right. Hioo. But seriously, since the average Republican is approximately… Let’s see, Satan is 6,000 years old and Dick Cheney is 68, so 500 years? Well, point is, based on this woman’s post, 38 in Republican is approximately 13 in normal person years, so she’s obviously in the right organization.

Anyway, here’s a screen cap.

audrashay

Audra claims she was referring to Eric’s previous comment. And maybe she’s serious. Probably not. The thing is, there’s something about this – it’s insanely adorable, you see, because first, you have something we think should behave in a specific manner (a human being, “rational”), juxtaposed with poorly written, grammatically incorrect phrases they don’t really understand. Plus, these hilarious outbursts seem to happen exclusively online, almost as though they don’t understand that whatever they post to the intertubes is forever. It reminds me of something. Right on the tip of my tongue. But what could it be?

Could it be:

LOLCoulter

No, that’s not it. Wait, how about:

SeanHannity

No, that’s not it either. Hang on, it’s right there… I GOT IT!

kaeseburger

That’s it! The modern face of Conservatism and Bigotry isn’t Rush Limbaugh, or crazy ass people who show up at Palin Appearances, or even murderous sociopaths. It’s the cutesy, aw shucks “ain’t I a stinker” purveyors of casually adorable hate.

Let’s call it the LOLcist.

I simply cannot wait to see the next manifestation of this wacky online trend.

Rest in Discord, Robert McNamara

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you’ve set your RSS Feed to “Michael Jackson ONLY”, you’ve no doubt heard that Robert McNamara, evil businessman, Secretary of Defense under both Kennedy and Johnson, and nefarious mastermind behind the Vietnam War, has died.

Now that he’s dead, it’s time to speak ill of him, with gusto. By way of that, let’s get some facts about the Vietnam war out of the way:

* It was a shameful, evil thing we ought never have started;

* It wasn’t about defending democracy, but about preserving western colonial dominance of a sovereign nation who’s only real offense was wanting colonizers to get the hell out of their country;

* It served no strategic purpose and furthermore, with it’s ignoble completion proved that the domino theory was crackpot insanity at best and a vicious lie at worst;

*It could never have “won” for the same reason the British could never have defeated us in our war for Independence – namely because, in order to do so, indiscriminate slaughter on a scale rivaling Nazi Germany would have been required, something the citizens of our country thankfully would never have accepted;

*Despite this, we still managed to deal out a shocking, and disgusting level of carnage and mayhem, dealing that unfortunate country a near mortal blow from which they have only recently recovered.

To restate, there is literally nothing about that was that can be justified. It was indefensible, even at the time, and only hardened idealogues could possibly have felt otherwise. Making matters worse, it seems to have been escalated, in part, to provide commie-hating cover to Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society plans. So in a sense, 50,0000 dead American soldiers, and more importantly, more than 2 million dead Vietnamese, were slaughtered so we could have a barely provisory welfare system and the meagerest possible health care system for the elderly (but for no one else). How’s that for cost/benefit analysis?

I jest, slightly, but only slightly, and none of this should detract from the fact that Johnson was egged on by his national security and foreign policy team, of which McNamara was at the head. All of that terrible destruction, needless waste and countless killing, it can be lain at McNamara’s feet. All the apologies in the world, and all of the favorable documentaries ever made, can’t make up for it.

Much has been said about the banality of evil that made that war possible, but to really measure just how terrible it was, one must look to its aftermath. Few things in life can be seen as an either/or situation, but the Vietnam War is just such a thing. Had we been willing, as a country, to admit the truth about this war, to acknowledge our cowardice, our greed, our stupidity, our casual brutality and our henious, wrongful attempt to genocide the communism out of the brown people, and I mean, admit all of this immediately upon the war’s completion, our subsequent history might have been vastly different.

Instead? Well, We seem to have these kind of indefensible national calamities every few generations, and the result is always the same: The bad guys increase their power by exploiting resentment over their own failed endeavors while those who were right sheepishly refuse to defend their position until they lose by default as the wrong side’s version of events becomes conventional wisdom. This is, of course, an American tradition, as those of us with roots in the south can attest. Even so, it’s one thing to know this, and another entirely to see it develop within one’s own lifetime. Especially as we should know better.

Post-Vietnam, in place of honest assessment and correction, we got 30+ years of Right Wing lies about how Vietnam was “lost” because liberals, protesters and squeamish politicians refused to do what “had to be done to win”. Year after year from 1975, continuing all the way into the 2004 election, a cadre of sociopaths and liars perpetuated the awful myths regarding our failures and defeat, extending the life of Mcarthyist slurs as an effective political tactic, and in the process convince millions of Americans to let them completely fuck the country up.

The recessions that have worsened with every occurence; the slow motion dismantling of our national safety net; the debt ridden, social darwinist culture that even now tears us apart; the millions who find their formerly well paying jobs flee the country as cost of living and health care costs increase expoentially; Katrina; right wing terrorist violence; even 911 and the terrifying 8-year long national nightmare that was the Bush Adminstration. All of these national calamaties, and more, can be traced back to how we as a nation coped with the end of Vietnam.

Luckily for us, we remain as a nation unwilling to honestly assess the Vietnam war, and we now have political and social culture in which Americans blithely debate the usage of torture not as a question of good or evil, but of “necessity”, with the issue of morality dismissed as “anything we do is, by definition, the right thing to do”. So we can look forward to many more such wars in our future. Apologies in advance to third world countries who happen to have resources we need or happen to be in our way. I mean, who happen to need “liberating” for “freedom” and “democracy”.

My point: McNamara spent his entire post-Vietnam life trying to apologize for his creation of America’s sociopathic political and foreign policy culture. And one must give him credit for realizing the awful monstrosities he inflicted on this country and on the world. But it wasn’t enough. His life’s work not only led to the slaughter of millions, it also helped give us a generation of insanities of which we are only now receiving full benefit. His death only serves to underscore the depravity that now defines national political culture and it is likely that it will end all discussion of the matter.

One hopes that on his death bed, he understood that. Based on his inexplicably lauded performance in The Fog Of War, I doubt it. Good riddance.

House of the Rising Bun

On this anniversary of our nation’s independence, we can all take pride in knowing that the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Championship has been retained by an American. The Japanese may have spent the last three decades surpassing us in manufacturing, automobiles, and technology, the United States still excels when it comes to eating as many hot dogs as possible without throwing up all over yourself.

The “Upper” House

Why you should be reading Ezra Klein :

Washington, DC: So do you think a constitutional amendment that gives more senators to larger states (from a range of 2 to, say, 8) would be feasible? I believe that is how it works in Germany’s upper house, the Bundesrat. It would leave the system pretty much intact but a bit more realistic.

(While we are at it we could scrap the electoral college too.)

Ezra Klein: Not feasible. But still totally necessary. Hell, if it were up to, I’d abolish the Senate totally. It’s an insane institution. No one has ever convincingly explained to my why it is important for the country to give a Wyoming resident more political power than a New Yorker. I get why we made that compromise originally.I don’t see why we’ve kept it.

Of course, the answer is that smaller, more conservative states are the “real” America.

You’re Never Going to Get Universal Healthcare

The United States Senate is our national shame. It was founded on the elitist notion that a people’s house would be subject to passions that the “upper” house would need to calm. Ironically, rather than be the intellectual bedrock that the founders envisioned, the Senate has evolved into an institutional roadblock which elevates the voices of the ignorant and makes a joke of the notion that anyone would ever consider this country a true representative democracy.

As long as a deep blue state like California only gets two Senators to represent its 36 million residents (vs. blood-red Wyonng who gets an equal number of senators for its half million residents), I don’t think it’s enough to have Democratic Senators like Dianne Feinstein who brag that complaints from the left “doesn’t move [her] one whit”. When it comes to counting votes for progressive legislation, I want a crazy-ass liberal who make Dennis Kucinich look like Barry Goldwater. Somebody whose liberal bona fides are so golden, no one would ever think to question whether or not they’d support a reasonably progressive agenda.

I’m getting really sick of sitting on the sidelines while people die because there are too many tiny state idiots in the Senate who actually believe their own bullshit (taxation is socialism, global warming is a myth, stem cell research is murder, etc.) . Even worse, the best our side can come us with is a bunch of more-or-less tenured cynics who dare not try to accomplish anything significant because they’ve been around so long they realize “the way Washington works” is to not do any work at all.

This goes far beyond right and left. I’m perfectly willing to have a reasonable debate and try to come to a consensus. Taxing emissions vs. cap and trade? A public option vs. a non-profit co-op? Cool, let’s find out the basics on where we agree and hash out the details on the rest. That’s the way things are supposed to work, but it’s increasingly hard to stay optimistic when it becomes ever clearer that “their” side isn’t bargaining in good faith and “our” side doesn’t share my values.

But, hey, there’s another election next year. Maybe THEN we’ll get something done.

Spade not referred to as spade; public irritation increases

NPR’s On the Media this week features a discussion with NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard about their news department’s refusal to refer to waterboarding and other — what’s the word? Oh, yes — torture techniques as torture. I urge you to listen to the segment, in which host Bob Garfield rightly poses an utterly logical case for using the word torture, using question after question for which Shepard has absolutely no satisfying answer. The following is the full text of a comment I left, edited for length because there’s some sort of foolishness about using fewer than 2,000 characters in comments. It outlines the case that basically anyone with an ounce of sense and half as much courage would make.

—————————-

During this week’s discussion of whether or not NPR should use the word torture when referring to waterboarding, Ms. Shepard stated more than once that it was not up to her or to NPR to define what is and is not torture. This is quite correct. In the process, she also mentioned enraged people e-mailing her demanding to know why abortion doctors aren’t called murderers on the air, though she did not follow that up with an explanation.

The answer is the same in both cases: Abortion doctors are not referred to as murderers because the legality of performing is not in question, nor is the proper terminology for referring to them. In other words, it has been determined by our nation’s legal authority that abortion doctors are not murderers. Continue reading

#TwitterFail

After spending some more time with it, I’ve got a definite love-hate relationship with Twitter. The things I hate about it, I hate with a passion not out of some grumpy old man sorta way, but the fact that Twitter is way too feature-sparse to be one of the biggest Web 2.0 success stories. My two biggest gripes :

- The reliance on @ and # shorthand for the most basic of “social networking” functionality is ridiculous. In 2009, there’s no reason why there should be as steep learning curve for something as basic as “Send a message about ____ to _____”. Even worse, Twitter barely even supports this syntax, lacking autocomplete, message threading, or the ability to figure out what a #topic is all about without resorting to Google.

- The 140-character limit is crap. It’s not “zen-like” or “minimalist”, it’s just a limitation built around the 160-character limitation of text messages (which itself is a total scam). The 140-character limit has also led to a big reliance on URL-shortening services, which are evil.

That said, I do appreciate a micro-blogging platform that’s easy to integrate into my main site and supports posting via cell phone and IM, so I’ve reluctantly started using it more and more (thus the abundance of one-sentence posts here). It’s ubiquitous and sorta-cool, but overall I still think Twitter is horrible not because of what it’s trying to be, but because it falls far short of being as great as it should.

Do people who run newspapers realize how modern journalism works?

Markos has a great takedown of a Washington Post article begging for new laws that would supposedly “maintain the viability of journalism as it evolves online”. I can’t help but notice the irony in this industry suggestion :

Federalize the “hot news” doctrine. This doctrine protects against types of poaching that copyright might not cover — the stealing of information not by direct copying but simply by taking the guts of the content. While the Internet has made news vulnerable to pilfering because of the ease of linking from one site to the next, the hot-news doctrine has limited use because it is only recognized in a few states.

Y’know, outlawing the “types of poaching that copyright might not cover” is a two-way street. I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time I read an article in a major newspaper that was lifted from a indie newspaper (even going as far as re-creating the story from scratch by re-interviewing everyone from the original article), local interest blog (using small blogs as a canary-in-the-coalmine to get leads), or online journalist like Joshua Marshall or Marcy Wheeler (stealing scoops without citation). In fact, I’ve noticed these sorts of “coincidences” at the L.A. Times a lot more than I’ve seen the online “pilfering” that’s such a concern. Even the lamest right-wing blogs (who entertain the notion that blogging as a medium will magically replace the “dead tree” media) have enough integrity to link back to the sources they’re quoting and commenting upon. Maybe if the newspapers would be more honest about their habit of crowdsourcing story ideas, they could develop a less hostile attitude toward the internet and actually come up with a business model that works.

Sugar-Coating Nazism

I can understand why the Pope would be uncomfortable about his past, but this is ridiculous :

The Vatican defended Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday as a man of strong anti-Nazi credentials, and backtracked over an earlier claim that he had never been a member of the Hitler Youth in his native Germany, which had contradicted statements by the pontiff himself.

A Vatican spokesman at first flatly denied that Benedict, 82, was ever in the Nazi youth movement. But when reporters noted the pope himself spoke of his membership in a 1996 book, he revised the statement to say: “He was enrolled involuntarily into the Hitler Youth but he had no active participation.”
. . .

The Vatican spokesman made a distinction between convinced Hitler Youth activists and members of the anti-aircraft units, omitting the category of involuntary Hitler Youth members to which Benedict has been quoted as saying he belonged.

“The Hitler Youth was a corps of volunteers, fanatically, ideologically for the Nazis,” Lombardi said.

The anti-aircraft auxiliary corps the pope was enrolled in towards the end of the war “had absolutely nothing to do with the Hitler Youth and the Nazis and Nazi ideology”, he added.

Yeah, the Pope used to be a Nazi, but he wasn’t a Nazi-Nazi. He was more like one of those loveable, doesn’t hate the Jews, Hogan’s Heroes sorta Nazis. And yeah… he was part of a German anti-aircraft unit during WW2, but that was completely unrelated to the Nazis. They were just shooting down Allied planes on their own, independent of what Hitler was doing, and they had no idea there was a war going on.

The Gay Tax

Interesting article via a Facebook friend on the economic consequences of marriage inequality :

The cost of love isn’t an abstract concept in my household: It’s precisely $1,820 per year. That’s the “gay tax” we shell out for me to be on my wife’s health insurance plan, because her company must treat that benefit as additional taxable income.
. . .
Consider the cost to Randy Lewis-Kendall, who lost his husband, Rob, to colon cancer in 2007, their 30th year together. He is about to be denied the $1,161 per month he would have collected in Social Security survivor benefits had his marriage been federally recognized. He could use it, too. The two men owned a small gift shop in Harwich on Cape Cod together, and Randy has been struggling to pay the bills since Rob’s death and the economic downturn.

That price my wife and I pay for the depraved thrill of being two middle-aged women with a joint checking account? It’s a drop in the bucket compared with what love is costing Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez. They’ve been together for 32 years and have paid nearly $20,000 more in taxes since their 2004 marriage than if they had been able to file a joint federal return.

DOMA doesn’t just hurt our pride: It undermines our ability to take care of one another. Neither Joan nor I have the right to take family medical leave from our jobs in the event that one of us becomes seriously ill. In couples where one spouse is a U.S. citizen and the other is not, the citizen cannot obtain a visa for the noncitizen or sponsor him or her for citizenship. And forget about inheritance. If you’re in a same-sex marriage and your spouse leaves her estate to you — for example, the house you shared — you’ll be forced to pony up as much as 50 percent of her estate’s value in taxes. Price tag for federally recognized married couples? Zero.

Something to mention the next time one of your family members talks about “protecting” marriage.

Pouring some tea on the ground for all my dumb homies…

In the grand scheme of things, getting people to complain about taxes on April 15th might be the easiest thing in the world. It’s right up there with “eating ice cream on a hot summer day” and “laughing whenever Glenn Beck cries”. Bitching about taxes is America’s true pastime. So when a few thousand people gather on tax day to whine about their taxes (after getting massive tax breaks, btw), it’s hardly the second coming of the American Revolution. Hell, I remember a time six years ago when millions of people took to the street to protest the government. We all saw how well that worked out.

When their rallying cry is “Grrrr…I hate you TAXES!”, there won’t be a whole lot left to keep the tea bagging movement together after April 15th. Manufactured-populism and a fractured-understanding of American history will only take you so far. The great-great-great-great grandchildren of liberty will have to find some other crusade to motivate them like birth certificate forgeries or investigating whether Bo Obama was really a rescue dog. Sure, some die-hards will stick around like the asshole who keeps flipping through your DVD’s at three in the morning oblivious to the fact that the party is over, but within a few weeks, the only people left to carry the “tea party” torch will be the GOP & Fox News personalities trying to recapture the “good times” with all the subtlety and humility of Chubby Checker trying to get everyone to do the twist.

I’m going to miss the “Tea Party” movement. I’m going to miss the powdered wigs and the lunatic ranting. I’m going to miss the ideological uncertainty and the unpragmatic futility (seriously, you’re mailing tea bags to the White House to demand lower taxes after you just got a tax cut?). Most of all, I’m going to miss the jokes. These last few weeks have been a golden age for juvenile humor that passes for insightful political commentary. It’s a rare movement that chooses to describe itself with terminology that also means “testicle slapping” and those of us who relish in the foolishness of conservative activism will be much worse off for it.

Different Year, Same Political Theater

An anti-tax protest on April 15th? Gosh, where have I heard that one before? Was it 2002?

KARL: Kate Snow, let’s move to the issue of tax day. Yes, indeed, it is tax day today, isn’t it? I guess the Republicans have decided that it is a perfect day to make a stand for permanent tax cuts. What will their message be today?

SNOW: Yes. They’re going to be having a rally, actually, here a little bit later on this morning. About 45 minutes from now, that gets underway, sort of behind us over there. And then beyond that, more than 20 different events around the country, Paula, all celebrating tax day, but also looking towards what you mentioned, a bill that is going to come up later this week on the House floor that says make that tax cut that they passed last year a permanent tax cut, make it extend forever.

2003?

Don’t be surprised if your post office attracts a protestor or two. The Libertarian Party, for example, usually makes appearances, and tomorrow is no exception. In fact, the party will show up twice at the Main post office at North Capital Street and Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, D.C.

Its daytime protest theme will be “taxation without representation.” Protestors return later in the evening for a “tax slavery” protest.

2004?

In Minneapolis, Libertarians will carry signs emblazoned with Donald Trump’s picture. The tag line: “You’re Fired, but I can’t fire the IRS.” Protesters there will also hand out $1-million bills, phony notes intended to dramatize the party’s point that the federal government spends $1 million every five seconds.

“We wanted to show a sense of humor with a serious spin,” said Corey Stern, a member of the Minnesota LP.

Anti-tax protesters — some dragging balls and chains, others dressed as patriots — will also be out in Duval County, Fla., according to Doug Klippel, chairman of the Florida LP. “There is even a rumor that Lady Godiva may show up,” he said.

2005?

If the commercial resonance of April 15 is fading, the day remains an important political symbol.

The Libertarian Party uses it to spread its philosophy of limited government. From coast to coast, local branches of the party hold colorful events.

In Florida, according to state chairman Doug Klippel, Libertarians will be out in Jacksonville, Orlando, and West Palm Beach.

“There will be people dressed as patriots, and a couple of people will show up with balls-and-chains,” says Klippel.

They’ll also be carrying signs intended to reinforce the party’s anti-tax message. One asks filers: “Wouldn’t you rather be taking your money to the bank?”

I suppose the only patriotic thing to do tomorrow would be to dress up like George Washington, stand on a street corner, and yell at passing cars, but I’m one of those “hard-working Americans” conservatives love to self-righteously rant about and I have to go to work. (h/t dr2chase)

Tweet Tweet Tweet

Back when I was in high school, the local paper ran an article with the headline “All That and Phat Too!” which served to explain all the hip, groovy slang all those damn kids were using. The predictable result was that for weeks afterwards, the adults of Tulsa, Oklahoma were gloriously misusing slang in an attempt to bridge the generation gap.

I get the same feeling now whenever I hear the mainstream media gush about Twitter. Journalists mostly missed the boat in the early years of the blogosphere – scoffing at foolishness like the “We’ll replace The Times” crowd on the right rather that recognize that blogs are a small part of the revolutionary change in way people consume information – so it feels as if they’re overcompensating now, with more and more newscasts featuring talking-heads chant “Twitter our tweets! Hee hee hee” Uggghhh..

Which leads me to Good Friday. As part of the effort to make Twitter as uncool as possible (not that it needs much help), a church group has decided to use tweets (hee hee) to re-enact the anti-semitic tradition of the Passion Play. I haven’t seen any “via @AngryJew: Let’s kill Jesus!!”, but this breaking of the fourth wall cracked me up :


passion

That’s almost as bizarre as the scene in Religulous when rubbernecking tourists were vying to get a get photo “Jesus” being beaten by Roman soldiers.