Monthly Archives: November 2011

Poor Mittens. Romney is finally destined to be the bride, and no one wants to RSVP for the wedding.

Charles Pierce on the Esquire blog has a fun article asking why everyone (conservatives, that is) hates Mitt.  Pierce has one awesome paragraph summing up Mittens’ various faults, as a conservative might see them.

On the surface, this elemental loathing seems disproportionate, even if you take into account how much of the GOP’s Jesus-jammin’ base distrusts the extended coven into which Romney was born. As governor of Massachusetts, Willard was relatively unobjectionable. He wasn’t as much fun as Bill Weld and his amber-colored liquids, or Paul Cellucci and his love of the track, to name only two of his immediate elected Republican predecessors. But nobody much minded him, especially when he sort of gave up on the job midway through his one term. Now, it is true that Willard is something of a foof who spends all his time falling a few yards short of sincerity. He speaks a form of trust-fund English that can be off-putting. He is as utterly unprincipled as a politician can be, and he’s about as trustworthy as a puff adder. None of these are an automatic disqualification for a presidential candidate. Even taken together, they add up to little more than Newt Gingrich with a silver spoon in his jowls. There has to be something more at work here.

But ultimately, the article is an extended query, and Pierce cannot answer the question.

I went trolling into the lowest depths of what passes for conservative thought (i.e., Freerepublic), and selected a few prime samples of the visceral distaste that the base feels for Mittens.  In an article about the current contest between Mittens and Newt, the comments generally circle around the issue that Romney isn’t a “conservative,” that he’s a RINO, and the name calling tends to gravitate towards “Slick Willard,” an obvious play on the conservative nickname for former President Clinton.  This one was the comment that stood out for its particularly vile and nonchalant racism:

The media denied Perry and Cain when they were challenging Romney. Why is the media now championing Gingrich? They know Gingrich is a liberal RINO and either him or Romney will be a good little house negro republican to lose against Barry.

Honestly, I don’t think that the question of why the rabid conservative base hates Romney is really all that difficult to answer.  They know that he isn’t a member of their tribe.  As unprincipled as he is, when he was governor, he made some decisions that were legitimately in the interest of the people of his state, and even when he mouths the current conservative shibboleths about abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and the social safety net, you can kind of tell that he isn’t motivated from the same place as a true conservative.  In other words, he doesn’t appear to have a convincing hatred for and desire to punish and oppress women, gays, minorities, and the poor, and that means that he isn’t really one of them.

On the other hand, poll after poll shows Mitt as the only potential Republican candidate with a shot of winning the Presidency.  I imagine that this must chap their hides.  The fact that the wingnuts cannot now, and never will be able to elect one of their own really must be upsetting.  The hatred for Romney, in this context, looks a lot like the natural consequences of the wingnut realization of their own irrelevance.




Serious question. Why aren’t conservatives funny?

On Talking Point Memo today, there’s an article on a new Glenn Beck TV joint, the B.S. of A.  To paraphrase Megyn Kelly, it’s the Daily Show, essentially.  According to the GBTV press release, it’s intended to be a “non-partisan” alternative to stuff that’s actually funny, like the Colbert Report or the Daily Show.

The host is some guy named Brian Sack, who apparently wrote a book called the B.S. of A., and needs to market it somehow.

The article embeds the following clip from the show:

Who remembers the 1/2 Hour News Hour?  That was the first (?) attempt to make a conservative Daily Show.

Or how about Gallagher?  Granted that prop comedy gets stale pretty quickly, what’s his excuse for the jokes?  From a Stranger article on a Gallagher performance last year in Seattle:

“Hey, President Obama,” he spits out the name like a mouthful of burning hair. “You ain’t black. I don’t care what you say—you’re a latte. You’re half whole-milk. It could be goat milk—you could be a terrorist!” I am too busy losing my mind to catch the next joke, which is about Ted Kennedy’s brain cancer. Aaaaand we’re off.

Gallagher is upset about a lot of things. Young people with their sagging pants (in faintly coded racist terms, he explains that this is why the jails are overcrowded—because “their” baggy pants make it too hard for “them” to run from the cops). Tattoos: “That ink goes through to your soul—if you read your Bible, your body is a sacred temple, YOU DIPSHIT.” People naming their girl-children Sam and Toni instead of acceptable names like Evelyn and Betty: “Just give her some little lesbian tendencies!” Guantánamo Bay: “We weren’t even allowed to torture all the way. We had to half-torture—that’s nothin’ compared to what Saddam and his two sons OOFAY and GOOFAY did.” Lesbians: “There’s two types—the ugly ones and the pretty ones.” (Um, like all people?) Obama again: “If Obama was really black, he’d act like a black guy and get a white wife.” Michael Vick: “Poor Michael Vick.” Women’s lib: “These women told you they wanna be equal—they DON’T.” Trans people: “People like Cher’s daughter—figure that out. She wants a penis, but she has a big belly. If you can’t see your dick, you don’t get one.” The Rice Krispies elves: “All three of those guys are gay. Look at ’em!” The Mexicans: “Look around—see any Mexicans? Nope. They’ll be here later for the cleanup.” The French: “They ruin our language with their faggy words.”

Or how about Dennis Miller?  He started out with a promising career in comedy, turned conservative, and apparently part of the deal was a surgical removal of his sense of humor.  Hmmm, wikipedia says that he endorsed Herman Cain for the 2012 presidential elections, so maybe he’s getting it back.

But seriously, why aren’t conservatives funny?  I really want to know the answer to this.



It was raining last night, and I stayed late at work, so my husband and kids came in the car to pick me up at the train.  I got in the car, said hi, and was greeted with total silence from the back seat.

“What are they doing?”

“Playing Super Mario.”

“Not Average Mario?”


“Merely adequate Mario?”

“Meets Expectations Mario?”

“Satisfactory Mario?”

“Unobjectionable Mario?”

“Mediocre Mario?”

“Fair to middling Mario?”


I cracked myself up.  My kids?  Not so much.  Oh well.  Not everyone can be super.

Environmental damage is a cost of doing business that the 1% never pays. We do. #OWS

The Grist has a nice article up responding to last month’s news that the world’s population was on the cusp of hitting the 7 billion mark.  Beginning with that fact as a starting point, the authors address the question of whether a population of 7 billion has any significant impact on the environment, or if our environmental crises actually have another cause.  The article points out the following:

But most of the 7 billion are not endangering the earth. The majority of the world’s people don’t destroy forests, don’t wipe out endangered species, don’t pollute rivers and oceans, and emit essentially no greenhouse gases.

Even in the rich countries of the Global North, most environmental destruction is caused not by individuals or households, but by mines, factories, and power plants run by corporations that care more about profit than about humanity’s survival.

No reduction in U.S. population would have stopped BP from poisoning the Gulf of Mexico last year.

Lower birthrates won’t shut down Canada’s tar sands, which Bill McKibben has justly called one of the most staggering crimes the world has ever seen.

Universal access to birth control should be a fundamental human right — but it would not have prevented Shell’s massive destruction of ecosystems in the Niger River delta, or the immeasurable damage that Chevron has caused to rainforests in Ecuador.

And going back to a subject that is near and dear to my heart, they address the fact that the environmental damage caused by unregulated corporate exploitation has an enormous cost, which goes unpaid by the corporate criminals.  The burden, rather, falls on the shoulders of the public and on government.

In the United States, the richest 1% own a majority of all stocks and corporate equity, giving them absolute control of the corporations that are directly responsible for most environmental destruction.

A recent reportprepared by the British consulting firm Trucost for the United Nations found that just 3,000 corporations cause $2.15 trillion in environmental damage every year. Outrageous as that figure is — only six countries have a GDP greater than $2.15 trillion — it substantially understates the damage, because it excludes costs that would result from “potential high impact events such as fishery or ecosystem collapse,” and “external costs caused by product use and disposal, as well as companies’ use of other natural resources and release of further pollutants through their operations and suppliers.”

So in the case of oil companies, the figure covers “normal operations,” but not deaths and destruction caused by global warming, not damage caused by worldwide use of its products, and not the multi-billions of dollars in costs to clean up oil spills. The real damage those companies alone do is much greater than $2.15 trillion, every single year.

Every day, everywhere, the public bears the burdens of corporate costs of doing business, while the “profits” from these actions go directly to the top.   There is a popular right wing myth that all that money represents the fruits of hard work and success.  That is a gigantic lie.  That money represents the costs that we are all paying with our health and our environment.  Never forget it.

Fake outrage over the “costs” of #OWS

There’s a nifty new meme floating around out there about the alleged “costs” to taxpayers because of the Occupy Wall Street protests occurring in cities and towns across the country.  I won’t link to any of the stories, but do a google news search with the key terms, and you’ll see a fairly coordinated effort in both local and national news to paint the occupiers as costing taxpayers more and more every day that they occupy public spaces.

The costs, in larger economic terms, are actually fairly minimal, and I don’t dispute that they are occurring.  On the other hand, I find it fascinating that the meme is gaining traction with the conservative set.  This is for a couple of reasons.

First, this is classic concern troll behavior, where the trolls profess to have some sympathy for the goals of the protesters, but then say that the protesters are simply going about it all wrong, and what they need to do is simply stop doing what they’re doing.

Second, it is screamingly frustrating that none of the voices of “concern” over costs to the taxpayers appear to have any concern about the costs imposed on taxpayers by big business, Wall Street, corporations.  Or, the 1%, for shorthand.  As I discussed in an earlier post on the topic, the alleged earned “profit” by the 1% is just another word for robbery.  The obscene amounts of money being pocketed by the 1% is outright theft, and it is made possible by the fact that our government is bought and paid for, and that the 1% has effectively externalized all normal costs of doing business onto the public and the government.

And finally, where is the outrage by the trolls over the costs of corporate-sponsered consumerism?  Believe it or not, “Black Friday” sales have already cost people their lives.  There is a pretense out there on the part of the anti-OWS crowd that they’re just concerned about law and order, and they fear the impact of a small criminal element inside the movement.  This is bullshit.  As a society, we are obviously comfortable with the idea that Black Friday sales crowds are going to trample people, including pregnant women, cause property damage, and shoot each other.  This barely makes a splash in the national or local news, and then we go on about our business.

No, it’s the OWS message that’s the problem, and the 1% will do whatever they can to shut it down.  Including hiring high-priced lobbyists to push negative messages about the movement.  I think we can expect to see a lot more of this.

Updated to add:

You know, after thinking this over a little more, I think we should consider the additional costs to be a victory of sorts for OWS.  If local park districts and police departments have to hire a few more people, or pay their regulars a little overtime to deal with this, that’s great.  It puts a little more money back in the hands of the people who need it.


Baratunde Thurston is live hate-tweeting Breaking Dawn

Baratunde (baratunde) on Twitter.

Y’all should really tune in for this.  Just a sample:

First moment of shows Jacob ripping off his shirt so this is gonna be more character driven than the other films

The Twilight franchise still sucks. Really.

Earlier this week, Noah Berlatsky at the Atlantic (a magazine that I ADORE, if only for Ta-Nehisi Coates) wrote what is quite possibly the most irritating article ever.  It is purportedly about the Twilight franchise’s main “character,” Bella Swan, as compared to the character of Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games books.  What the article really is though, is a thinly veiled taunt of female critics of the Bella character.  If he used slightly less polite language, he’d be calling us femi-nazis.  Berlatsky’s rhetorical approach, such as it is, is to begin by pretending to sympathize with critics of the Bella character, but then attempt to pull a switch at the end by demonstrating how Bella’s just so awesomely moral that she totally rules, because she has a baby.  Or something, it isn’t really that good of an argument.  This is mostly because he isn’t actually trying to make a solid argument, he’s just trying to piss people off as link bait.  So…well played, I suppose.

Anyway, on to the article.  Let’s begin with the title:  “‘Twilight’ vs. ‘Hunger Games’: Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella?”  The title misleads in a couple of ways.  First by pretending that it’s some cadre of grownups who find the depiction of Bella to be problematic, and that there are no young readers out there who are equally bothered by it.  Second, by pretending that this is a non-gender specific critique of “grownup” responses.  It isn’t.  Delve into the second and third paragraphs of the article, and it’s clear that Berlatsky’s primary focus is on the feminist critique of Bella’s character.  Here, in the second paragraph, he cites a small string of critics in the Bella v. Katniss war, and chooses to avoid really quoting them, but rather characterize their critiques, as follows:

Critics have expressed the Katniss-would-beat-the-tar-out-of-Bella dynamic in various ways. Tina Jordan at says that “compared to Katniss, Bella is simply the more passive character.” Meghan Lewitt here at The Atlanticcompared the “swoony Bella” to the “tough-as-nails Katniss,” and enthusiastically welcomes the latter as a return to heroines like Nancy Drew and Buffy: “the tomboys and the rule-breakers, resourceful, whip-smart girls who were doing it for themselves with minimal parental supervision.” Alyssa Rosenberg laments, “Bella’s overriding passivity,” while Yvonne Zip at Christian Science Monitor enthuses that “Katniss is too much of a fighter to go serenely to her death.” Bella, on the other hand, is stereotypically girly, and as Melinda Beasi argues, even women and feminists (especially women and feminists?) are neverous [sic] about being “associated with anything ‘girly.'” Thus the appeal of Katniss, who is a badass. Because whether it’s in a fist fight or in the hearts of critics, butch beats girly every time.

Ok.  So we have a general roundup of only female critics, along with what Berlatsky claims are their arguments.  That is, without actually quoting the critics saying so, he claims that the issue is that Bella is “girly” and Katniss is “butch.”  Really.  Moving on to the fourth paragraph of this mess of an article, he has this to say about the definitions of “girly” and “feminine” vs. what he claims is the definition of “butch” or “masculine”:

Comparing Twilight and The Hunger Games, it’s easy to see why second-wave feminists, and adults in general, find a girly teen so much less attractive than a tomboyish one. Bella is, as the critics say, passive, hapless, and an utter mess. Not only is she physically inept, but she has no particular talents or even distinguishing characteristics other than her desperation for romance.


And then there’s Katniss: an extremely competent, tomboyish young woman who is athletic, focused, responsible, and able to take care of herself. She’s not especially interested in boys and doesn’t have sex, or even really think about sex for almost the entire series. She’s also politically engaged, especially as the story moves on. She is, in other words, the ideal second-wave feminist daughter; smart, fierce, independent, and sexually restrained.

Now, after creating this dichotomy out of whole cloth, he then poses the following question:

And yet, for all the critical accolades…is masculinity really categorically better and more feminist than femininity? Would we really rather have our 17-year-old daughters kill dozens than have them carry a baby to term? Certainly, there are aspects of The Hunger Games that make the butch ideal seem problematic at the very least.

Oh Lordie, where to begin.  Ok.  Here we see that to Berlatsky, being “feminine” or “girly” means passivity, haplessness, klutziness, and desperation for “romance.”  To be “butch” or “masculine” means competence, athleticism, responsibility, and political intelligence.  Holy fucking shit.  I am, at this point, wondering whether Berlatsky knows any actual people, male or female.  But particularly, does he actually know any “girly” teens?  And has he actually read any of the Twilight books or seen the movies?  Yes, Bella is all of those things, but she is also uninterested in socializing, uninterested in clothes, uninterested in popular culture, and uninterested in her own appearance.  So in other words, not girly.  And Katniss?  Her motivation for everything she does is to save her family, particularly her younger sister to whom she essentially serves as a mother.  So, um, in other words, she exhibits a stereotypically “feminine” trait.

I will quote the following passage again, because I think it represents the heart of Berlatsky’s “masculine” v. “feminine” dichotomy:

And yet, for all the critical accolades…is masculinity really categorically better and more feminist than femininity? Would we really rather have our 17-year-old daughters kill dozens than have them carry a baby to term? Certainly, there are aspects of The Hunger Games that make the butch ideal seem problematic at the very least.

And there you have it.  Masculine = killing people.  Feminine = having babies.  Every other adjective used by Berlatsky is just incendiary window dressing.  In Berlatsky’s bizarro-universe, the entirety of the Bella character can be boiled down to the fact that she had a baby, and the character of Katniss can be boiled down to the fact that she killed people.  And BABIES, folks!!  That’s what we should be encouraging our daughters to want!  Because the only other choice is killing people, obviously.

The remainder of the article is a hot mess, in which Berlatsky makes all sorts of additional unsupported claims that seem to boil down to his opinion that all girls really want is to settle down and have kids.  Yes, the article is obvious link bait, and I went with it.

So in other Twilight news, Breaking Dawn Part 1 came out in theaters last night, and 40 year old housewives everywhere went to the midnight showings.  Rather than watching it for myself, I will rely on this review from Film Freak Central.  Lazy of me, I know, but having seen the other movies this past week as they played endlessly on cable, I’m pretty sure the review is dead on.  Key graf:

Appalling by pretty much every measure, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (hereafter Twilight 4.1) is the predictable end result of a film based on a book written by an illiterate Mormon housewife mistaking her profound ignorance for profundity. It’s about a really old guy who talks a really young girl into marrying him and enduring really, really painful childbirth as her portion of God’s judgment on her kind; and then it’s about another kind of pedophilia, wherein a 19-year-old badly in need of acting lessons gets turned on by a baby and decides he’s going to marry that infant once she’s old enough to breed.


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