A Few Things Ill Considered

Okay, so this is way off the general climate topic, but I really got a kick out of this article from Bill Maher published in the LA Times.

If Al Franken can be a senator, why can`t Bill Maher be an LA Times columnist?

Here are a few notable quotables:

The governor of Texas, Rick Perry, is not afraid to say publicly that thinking out loud about Texas seceding from the Union is appropriate considering that … Obama wants to raise taxes 3% on 5% of the people? I’m not sure exactly what Perry’s independent nation would look like, but I’m pretty sure it would be free of taxes and Planned Parenthood. And I would have to totally rethink my position on a border fence.

And about the astro-turf tea party protests:

I know. It’s not about what Obama’s done. It’s what he’s planning. But you can’t be sick and tired of something someone might do.

Here he really nails the psychology of current republican politicking:

Look, I get it, “real America.” After an eight-year run of controlling the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, this latest election has you feeling like a rejected husband. You’ve come home to find your things out on the front lawn — or at least more things than you usually keep out on the front lawn. You’re not ready to let go, but the country you love is moving on. And now you want to call it a whore and key its car.

His advice:

The healthy thing to do is to just get past it and learn to cherish the memories. You’ll always have New Orleans and Abu Ghraib.

And the last word:

The thing that you people out of power have to remember is that the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don’t need to. They already beat you in public.

Well worth the read!

Comments

  1. #1 Chris
    April 25, 2009

    Setting up strawmen and ripping them apart sure proves a point! I’m sure that while this parading of obviously immature conservatives is a completely legitimate commentary on the GOP, a similar article about all those pot smoking liberals living in their parents’ basements would be dismissed as a simple minded and childish attack. Keep political commentary on some other blog. Perhaps you might consider that such brazen announcement of your own political un-objectivity might make others wonder about your scientific objectivity? I’m not sure that you ever claimed any, but you could better maintain the illusion if grossly biased political discussion wasn’t a part of this blog.

  2. #2 Tyler DiPietro
    April 25, 2009

    Awwwww! Did the big mean liberal hurt your feewings, Chris?

  3. #3 Gordon S
    April 25, 2009

    You’re right, Chris.

    It’s a little disingenuous for Maher to cherry-pick Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann as public faces of the GOP, when the face of the Democrat Party is Senator Snoop Dogg and Rep. Unemployed-23-Year-Old-College-Dropout.

    Maher really needs to grow up.

  4. #4 Alan Rowlands
    April 25, 2009

    Chris, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is a real person; a “straw man” is a construct representing qualities and/or opinions you want to attack. Reagan’s welfare mom living in luxury was such a construct- no such person was ever located or identified, but the idea sure rallied the rednecks. A straw man said that we should get our moral values from Hollywood and offer therapy to terrorists. Who has ever actually said such things?

    Someone with moral values and a functioning intellect has examined the facts and come to a conclusion which offends your world view, Chris. That would not make him guilty of “un-objectivity” even if such a word existed. An informed opinion is no more “grossly biased” than right-wing propaganda is “fair and balanced”. Chris, you are in over your head, but at least you are no straw man- you are a living, breathing indicator of the Republican Party’s ongoing destruction. Power to the People.

  5. #5 Chris
    April 26, 2009

    How supremely silly. No, Tyler, my feelings are not hurt. Juvenile attacks on somebody who’s obviously lost touch with reality don’t really bother me that much. What bothers me is that the sort of idiocy displayed by some individuals (like Rick Perry) is suddenly applied to conservatives in general. It’d be just as unfair to pick out some choice dunces on the left side of the aisle, rip them (fairly) to shreds, and then make some jokes about how the whole party is done for, and sucked in the first place.

    That’s not technically a straw man argument, I guess. But when a person is that much of a caricature of what the other side finds offensive and wrong it may as well be. It’s not a compelling commentary. It’s patting your own back for being oh so clever and attacking the easiest target you could find. I think Perry’s a nutter. A large part of the GOP is completely out of touch. The fundies that can’t wrap their heads around evolution, or those ‘tea party’ people make my head hurt, I’m sure you communists feel the same way. I mean it’s nice and all that you guys assume I watch only Fox News (I actually don’t watch TV news… I read the NYT) and that the whole un-objectivity thing was directed at Maher, but it’s just not the case. I’m not some cookie cutter right wing stooge, and I’m primarily accusing Coby here. Maher can say whatever he wants of course, and it’s no business of mine if he chooses to make sweeping generalizations that are no more grounded in reality than Mr. Perry is. The fact that he chooses to attack buffoons, and then transition in to accusing about half the country of the same idiocy is his own failing, and it doesn’t bother me. But it IS a little disappointing to see such heavy handed political ‘commentary’ appear on the front page of a science blog.

    Even though I disagree with him, I like what Coby is trying to do, in general, with this blog. It’s good to have a place to talk science. I realize fully that I’m in the minority here, climate-wise and politically, but I had hoped that the political stuff would stay out of it. CO2 (much less the world) doesn’t care if you voted for Obama. And frankly neither do I. But I don’t like when what ought to be a science blog suddenly turns in to ‘lets pick some punching bag conservative to beat up on, mis-characterize the whole GOP as being just like Jackass B. Whoever, and then congratulate ourselves on our obviously superior intellect and political leanings.’ It’s unbecoming. And yeah, it’s just as disgusting to me when over on Insert_What_You’d_Politely_Refer_To_As_A_Denialst_Website.com I see a bunch of crap about the ‘Goracle’ (Al Gore), or whatever.

    My point was, and remains, that political commentary (especially such delightfully childish stuff) ought not to appear on a science blog. If you guys really honestly disagree with that, and still think I’m a clone of Perry, and furthermore ‘a living, breathing indicator of the Republican Party’s ongoing destruction’ (that’s the logical fallacy we call an ad-hom Adam, unless you’d like to quibble your way out of the definition) then I guess this place isn’t what I thought it was. I’ve no problem discussing the relevant (science and maybe policy) issues with all you filthy hippies, I’m just tired of the political mud slinging.

    (Yeah I said communist and filthy hippies, I was joking as well as making a point. It sounds dumb when I do it. It sounds dumb when anyone, right or left, does it. So let’s not. Please.)

  6. #6 mercurianferret
    April 26, 2009

    Chris – You seem in your first statement that you don’t think that coby can state his political points of view yet remain an objective scientist. This is like saying that a person can’t hold on to two ideas at the same time, especially if the two ideas aren’t diametrically opposed to each other.

    You also seem to be oblivious – or not willing to accept – that scientists have had to deal with eight years of politicization of science and misrepresentations of science during the Bush administration, and that some scientists – because scientists are human, too – are actually happy (yes, they can be happy humans complete with emotions) that Obama is the president, and happy that people who deal with political commentary and news commentary (which Maher does as a profession) are publishing stories that mirror their own happiness.

    Would you have been as angry with coby if he wrote about the previous administration’s people’s rewriting of results from “controversial” climate science and public health studies? Would that have been “too political” for you? Or would it have been “okay” since that dealt with science, and not politics at large? But if you think that it would have been reasonable for coby to post stories like those (and I do think it would be reasonable), then why not be reasonable to post a story that speaks to what some people (possibly coby) feel to be the crux of the situation that led to a sour feeling during the past eight years, namely the attitude of the “real America” to the reality that is America?

    True, the story isn’t “science”, but Maher’s perceptions of the right-wing as outlined in his commentary is also something that I know (from a non-scientific polling of many grad students in my department) that some of tomorrow’s scientists completely agree with.

    Finally, I get that you don’t support those people cited by Maher. You feel that they aren’t representative of the GOP. However, you don’t tell anyone here who you think best represents the GOP. If you want people to change their mental paradigm, then you have to follow the suggestion from Kuhn: provide an alternative paradigm that is feasible and usable based on the data presented while also being superior to the current paradigm.

  7. #7 Betula
    April 26, 2009

    Coby,

    I agree with Chris on posting things like this, but since you opened the can, I didn’t think you would mind if I dropped a few cents in it….

    Bill Maher is a funny guy, but much of the humor is lost on those who use don’t live in a box.

    I would imagine you are aware that his cute notable quotables could easily be turned around and pointed in the other direction. You do know that don’t you?

    For example…..

    1. Regarding the threat of secession…..this from the great state of Howard Dean:

    http://www.rense.com/general68/secede.htm

    2. Regarding Tea Parties, Bill’s line is funny. It would be funnier if I were ignorant.
    If the lefties turned from Olbermann for a moment, they might realize that the majority of people at Tea Parties were protesting government spending from both parties. For example, passing an 800 billion dollar stimulus Bill without reading it.
    Sure, there were some jackasses and there were many protesting the taxes that are inevitable due to the spending, but the Majority were protesting Democrat and Republican spending. In fact, politicians were encouraged NOT to attend. Here’s a video of a Republican Congressman being booed and asked to go home at a Tea Party…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1QsY2r7HbTM

    3. I couldn’t help but sense a familiar ring to some of the lines in this hysterical notable:

    “After an eight-year run of controlling the White House”……”this latest election has you feeling like a rejected husband”……..”You’re not ready to let go,”

    Reminds me of a DENIER I heard about. This guy rejected a consensus formed by a panel of experts (The Supreme Court) based on reviewed evidence (votes and recounts) that was compiled by a group of his peers (the voters). He never did let go.

    4. “You’ll always have New Orleans and Abu Ghraib.”

    I have to admit,this one is a side splitter. I recently heard a similar one. It goes like this:

    At least the Democrats will always have…..

    WWII (405,00 U.S. deaths), The dropping of the Atomi Bombs (150,00 Japanese deaths), Japanese Internment Camps (110,000 Japanese Americans) The Korean War (36,500 U.S.deaths), The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam (58,000 U.S deaths), The My lai massacre (killing of over 400 unarmed Vietnamese civilians), Mogadishu (43 U.S. deaths), Bosnia (12 U.S deaths), Kosovo (20 U.S.deaths), the bombings of Iraq in the 90′s……

    C’mon, guy’s this is funny stuff!

    Hello?

    Anybody?

    Is this thing on?

  8. #8 Betula
    April 30, 2009

    I was just reminded of an event that I forgot to add in my comment above.

    It’s relavent to the comment in that in brings the whole thing together in a Bill Maher sort of way that brings out that deep belly laugh in all liberals.

    Here it is:

    At least the Democrats will always have….

    The Waco Seige…..76 people died, including 20 children.