Archive for July, 2009

I know that the smart thing to do would be the ignore them. That we are merely legitimizing them or giving them more power and attention by having Lou Dobbs talk about them on CNN and by having journalists ask Robert Gibbs about it. But I find myself coming back to this story again and again. And it’s not just because the Birthers are conspiracy theorists, or crazy, or stupid, or even racist.

It’s because of George Tiller.

Tiller, you might recall, was the abortion doctor in Wichita who was gunned down in his church. As I’ve said before, it could have been predicted. When you have one side that is sure that Tiller is a baby murderer who runs an infanticide death mill, but that the law protects him, then you can see killing him as a logical and justified conclusion of your world view.

The problem with the Birthers is that we have more and more people who are convinced that Obama is a foreign agent who has infiltrated the country and usurped Presidential power, possibly on behalf of dangerous African/Muslim international forces. And if no one else is willing to do anything about it, then what is the logical and justified conclusion…?

Like I said, they scare me.

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I’d said previously I’d like to see the polling data for the Birthers… and now we have it!

The question is whether you think Obama was born in the U.S. and the breakdown is Yes/No/Not Sure

Dem: 93, 4, 3
Rep: 42, 28, 30
Ind: 83, 8, 9

Northeast: 93, 4, 3
South: 47, 23, 30
Midwest: 90, 6, 4
West: 87, 7, 6

So there it is. Fewer than half of polled Republicans are sure that Obama was born in the U.S. This is what you get when your political commentators and politicians are fucking nutcases. But take a closer look and you see this is a phenomenon of the South. And while the regional votes aren’t divided, it is almost certainly true that among Republicans in the South, this is a mainstream view.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but I still am.

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…where you don’t have much to say. So via Reddit, here’s a photo of Wilt Chamberlain and Andre the Giant holding up Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Anybody want a peanut?

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You know, the nuts who are convinced that Obama was born in Kenya and therefore ineligible to be the President. For reasons that are unclear to be at this time, they are getting more traction in the news. Lou Dobbs, I’m looking at you. The first mistake I would advise you not to make is to assume that this is just a few isolated nutcases. As Ben Smith points out, we live in a nation where surveys show 34% believe in UFOs and 24% believe in witches. I’d love to see the poll numbers on Birther-ism, but I doubt it would be that different from the more than 10% who say Obama is a Muslim.

I consider it to be mostly a cognitive dissonance response. I’m sure most of these people still cannot believe we elected Barack Obama president. So therefore we didn’t, because he isn’t actually eligible to be president. And when he actually releases evidence, as he did when he released his certificate of live birth below, they double down and insist that instead of proving Obama was born in Hawaii, it proves he was reallly born in Kenya because it must be a fake.

Just kidding. Factcheck.org does a good job of showing the actual evidence, including the real certificate and the local newspaper birth announcements back from 1961. So what do the birthers claim to want? After all,  Obama seems to have already done what they say they want: release the damn certificate. The newest bullshit seems to be that instead of releasing a digital copy to Daily Kos, they’d like the original paper copy from Hawaii. It’s a ridiculous request, since the state switched from paper records to digital copies as their official records, and since Factcheck saw the original already. But in addition to those legitimate reasons, this deserves no further response from the White House for at least two pragmatic reasons, one of which is quite cynical. They will never be satisfied by more evidence anyway, and second, even if they were, the more the Birthers flail in the wind, the more ridiculous and marginalized the GOP base becomes.

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There are certain phrases that piss me off more than they should. I wonder if most people have some like this. For James Fallows, it’s the use of the debunked “slowly boiled frog” metaphor. I mentioned previously that adding “-gate” to purported scandals and the phrase “thrown under a bus” were two of my least favorites. But my absolute least favorite is the completely overdone and incorrect use of the word “proverbial.” The definition of the word is simple: of, relating to, or resembling a proverb. In other words, if you’re going to use the word, you’d better have a proverb in mind. Let’s check out the opening paragraph of this baseball article:

“There is absolutely nothing he can do for the proverbial encore, so Mark Buehrle will settle for trying to keep the White Sox near the American League Central ceiling.”

Seriously, now. To what fucking proverb are you referring? I will readily admit that I don’t know every proverb, so there always exists the possibility that someone is using the word correctly, but that my ignorance of the relevant proverb prevents me from seeing that. But still, I am sure that in most cases, and certainly this one, the answer is that there is no relevant proverb.

It seems clear that “proverbial” is one of those words in danger of losing its meaning, much like “literally” probably already has (for which there is a blog dedicated to the subject, my current favorite example of which is Sarah Palin’s spokesperson saying “The world is literally her oyster.” Unless Palin in fact lives in a giant oyster shell, I call bullshit.)

Ok, fine, perhaps I am a language snob.


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I paid some attention to this year’s Tour de France because Lance Armstrong returned to the race. Armstrong, of course, won 7 staight Tours at a time when doping allegations and breaches were common. So just for kicks, I just looked up the 2nd and 3rd place finishers in each of the 1999-2005 tours that Lance won. Due to some repeats, there aren’t 14 unique names, but here are all of them:

Alex Zulle – admitted to doping

Fernando Escartin – rode for team with a former rider alleging systemic doping

Jan Ullrich – implicated in doping scandal, suspended from Tour

Joseba Beloki – implicated in doping scandal and withdrew from Tour

Raimondas Rusmas – failed doping test

Alexander Vinokourov – failed doping test

Andreas Kloden – credible allegations of doping

Ivan Basso – implicated in doping scandal, suspended from Tour

I’ll admit that some of these are more solid than others, but that makes it potentially ZERO clean riders. And that’s just looking at the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. I know that in one year, the riders who finished 2nd through 5th to Lance were all banned the following year. The scandal I mentioned a few times is Operacion Puerto, and took down or implicated a whole bunch of riders, including Alberto Contador, who won this year’s Tour. Miguel Indurain, winner from 1991-1995, tested positive for a steroid but went unpunished due to rules at the time. The 1998 winner, Marco Pantani, tested positive and was banned. The 2006 winner, Floyd Landis, tested positive and lost his title. When it comes to Lance, he’s either the greatest athlete in history for being able to dominate legions of known dopers, or he is simply a doper who was never caught. The answer seems pretty clear to me.

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And I’m back. Which means the posts ought to come more regularly now.

To begin, like a lot of people I was initially outraged by the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. But upon thinking about it some more, I’m completely with Conor Friedersdorf, who gives us all some very important reminders. There is simply too much injustice in this world, and the most egregious of it never gets one word in print.

…and just to be clear, I think that adding “-gate” to a presumed scandal is one of the dumbest plays on words possible, and ought to be thrown under the bus (another one of my least favorites).

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