Monday, August 25, 2008

Reasoning With Reason

I can’t remember the first time I ever heard the phrase “a piece of work” used disparagingly about a person with kooky beliefs or habits, but I do remember thinking it was both hilarious and incredibly apt. It’s a perfect phrase. You can call someone weird, but weird covers everything from Carrot Top to Son of Sam. “Piece of work” gets right to the point. You can’t say it without rolling your eyes or shaking your head or both.

The phrase is fresh on my mind today because this morning I discovered a blogger named Reason McLucus on the Des Moines Register site, and man, this guy is a piece of work.

According to his bio, Reason is 62 years old, a resident of Kansas, a Vietnam veteran, and “a mathematician who looks at how social and physical systems work.” He doesn’t claim that being a mathematician helps him understand how social and physical systems work—he just likes to look.

He does, however, say, that he has 100 hours of graduate study beyond his M.A. in American history. With those sorts of academic credentials going for him, one might think Reason could deliver a cogent analysis of the campaign landscape on the eve of the Democratic Convention.

One would be wrong.

The subtitle of Reason’s blog is “Fighting ignorance with knowledge and logic,” neither of which are evident in today’s post, called “Another Bush Administration.” Here’s Reason, coming right out of the blocks:

Democrats have been claiming that a John McCain administration would be a third Bush administration. However, it’s the Democrats who are offering the ticket that more closely resembles the Bush administration.

Say again? Two of the most liberal members of the Senate are more like Bush-Cheney than McCain and whomever? In his 100 hours of doctorate-level study, has Reason discovered some hidden nuance linking these four men, some insight we ordinary folks would have missed?

Uh, no, he has not. According to Mr McLucus:

Democrats will offer an inexperienced young presidential candidate with an older experienced vice president to tell him what to do—at least that is how the Democrats claim the Bush administration has functioned.

Well, substitute “dimwitted” for “inexperienced” and “morally bankrupt” for “older experienced,” and that’s pretty much how the Bush administration has been functioning for almost eight years now.

Reason goes on to say that Biden is actually more qualified to be president than Obama, which might or might not be true and isn’t really relevant, considering the primaries were over several weeks ago. He goes on to note:

Biden is a bad choice for Barack Obama’s running mate because Biden’s presence on the ticket will highlight Obama’s inexperience.

If Obama is as inexperienced in foreign policy as his detractors claim, then choosing a VP candidate who has foreign-policy experience should be reassuring, right? Not according to Reason, who uses his mighty powers of logic to claim that Biden’s experience only draws attention to Obama’s lack thereof. By Reason’s dubious reasoning, Obama should have selected a running mate with no experience whatsoever—because then nobody would notice.

Biden’s past comments about Obama’s inexperience could also hurt Obama’s chances of winning. Republicans certainly will be using those comments to discredit Obama.

Ah yes, six months ago, Joe Biden said something to the effect that Obama didn’t have the experience to be president. What was the context? Hmmm—oh yes, I remember now: Biden was running for president at the time. Apparently, Reason isn’t aware that primary candidates sometimes say things to make voters want to vote for them instead of the others. He’s right about one thing: Republicans will undoubtedly try to use this scrap of nothing to try to discredit Obama. As the Swift Boat weasels proved, there’s a whole mess of registered voters who’ll believe any damn thing you tell them.

Reason, don’t worry, buddy. Obama is well aware of Biden’s comment during the primaries. If he held any grudges, he wouldn’t have chosen Biden as his running mate.

Obama has been claiming he wants to bring change to Washington. His choice of a career Senator as his running mate indicates he is attempting to convince older voters that “Change” is just a buzz word to con young voters into supporting him.

This might be the dumbest paragraph in the piece, which makes it one of the dumbest of all time. I’d love to hear Reason use knowledge and logic to explain why Obama would want to convince older voters that he’s trying to con young voters into supporting him. The sentence makes no sense. Then again, neither does the idea that being a career Senator disqualifies one from trying to change things in Washington. See if you can figure this one out, Reason: What Obama and the rest of us want to change is the corrupt, immoral, un-American policies of the current resident of the White House.

Obama has no real intention of really changing anything in Washington.

Thank you, Amazing Kreskin. Your psychic abilities are every bit as sensible as your political insights.

I’ve browsed around a little bit in the rest of Reason’s posts, and to his credit, he comes out strongly against parents leaving their children in hot cars. But when it comes to talking politics, he’s truly a piece of work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cavalcade of News on the March, Part 2

Here’s a truly jaw-dropping moment from the recent news:

On "Face the Nation" Sunday, Republican slimebag Karl Rove said he expects Barack Obama to choose a VP candidate that will help him win battleground states, without regard to that candidate’s leadership potential. According to, Rove said

“I think he’s going to make an intensely political choice, not a governing choice. He’s going to view this through the prism of a candidate, not through the prism of president; that is to say, he’s going to pick somebody that he thinks will on the margin help him in a state like Indiana or Missouri or Virginia. He’s not going to be thinking big and broad about the responsibilities of president.”

Pardon me while I reattach my jaw. By Rove’s logic, Bush Sr must have chosen intellectual featherweight Dan Quayle as his 1988 running mate because Quayle actually had some presidential qualifications, not because he was a conservative Midwesterner with boyish good looks and the sturdy resolve of a lap dog. By Rove’s logic, Dan Quayle was the second-most qualified person to be the leader of the free world. Gee, you’d think a candidate of that caliber would still be active in politics, delivering fiery speeches about his vision for a better America, instead of working for a private investment firm.

(By the way, there probably aren’t a lot of blogs bashing Dan Quayle these days. Another reason you can count on the Runes for the most timely and insightful political commentary.)

Need another example? By Rove’s logic, Dick Cheney would make a good president. And maybe he would, if the Society of Grouchy Old Pricks ever deposes their current regime. But until showing contempt for Americans is recognized as an attribute of a good leader, I’m willing to believe the Poor Dope chose Cheney for entirely different reasons—most of them involving his shriveled black heart.

For seven long years, Karl Rove has been the shameless mouthpiece of an administration that puts party before country at every opportunity. Of course, it helps to be shameless if you’re going to accuse the Democrats of doing something you’ve made a pretty good living at.

* * *

Just a quick take on this one: I had to shake my head at the way both McCain and the Poor Dope demanded a diplomatic solution to the fighting between Russia and Georgia. Don’t those Russians know that we’re the only country allowed to solve problems—even non-existent ones—with military might? According to the Los Angeles Times, Bush told Moscow that its attacks in Georgia had “substantially damaged” its standing in the world and its relations with the West.

Well, he oughta know.

I’m sure Russia enjoyed being lectured by a guy with the moral authority of a cucumber.

Cavalcade of News on the March

Well, I wish John Edwards had kept his thing in his pants back when the opportunity presented herself. I’m surprised but not devastated by the news of his extramarital affair; after all, he didn’t promise to be faithful to me till death do us part. I’m mostly disappointed that he’s probably blown the chance to be a key member of an Obama administration.

I caucused for Edwards last January and he was my second choice after Howard Dean in 2004, and of all the Democratic candidates in the race when this campaign started a couple of eons ago, I still think he was the most aware of and the most concerned about the plight of working families.

That said, I want to go back to a quote I read from a Hillary Clinton supporter shortly after Obama clinched the nomination. This supporter complained that after it came down to a two-person race, the media’s love affair with Obama made the difference.

I’d like to point out that the media’s love affair with both Obama and Clinton was what made it a two-person race in the first place. In my estimation (and that of the thousands of other Iowans who helped him earn 15 delegates at the caucus last January), Edwards’ experience and ideas made him the best choice to defeat the Republicans in November—but somehow he got dubbed the pretty-boy candidate, the haircut candidate, and the media treated him as an also-ran before the campaign was barely off the ground. (Actually, my political views matched up 100 percent with those of Dennis Kucinich, but he was treated as the joke candidate from day one.)

He who lives by the media love affair dies by the media love affair. Sadly, that shows that media pundits have entirely too much influence on the electoral process. Even more sadly, it shows that the electorate is too easily influenced.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Say the Pledge, Dammit--Say It!

Barack Obama was speaking at a town-hall meeting at Baldwin-Wallace College Tuesday when he was interrupted by a guy complaining that he hadn’t asked the audience to say the pledge of allegiance. True story.

There are a handful of things Obama could have said in this situation. He could have said “Nobody’s allegiance is in question here.” Or he could have said “What are you, a fifth-grader?” Or he could have said “If you need forced pseudo-patriotic ritual to give your life meaning, there’s a Hitler Youth meeting down the hall.”

Instead he humored the heckler and invited him to lead the audience in the pledge. The heckler did so, the audience recited it with him, and there were no further incidents.

Naturally, I wanted to find out what make a grown man love the pledge so much. He identified himself only as John Q. Public, but I managed to pretend to track him down and make up this exclusive interview:

Runes: Mr Public, everyone wants to know: Why the pledge of allegiance? If you felt compelled to demand some group activity that reminded you of childhood, why not a game of dodge ball or a rousing chorus of “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”?

Public: Frankly, I was caught up in the spirit of the event. I just wanted to make sure everyone in the crowd was as loyal to America as I am.

Runes: And how did you ascertain that?

Public: By making everyone pledge their allegiance. With that simple act, I assured Mr Obama that he was in the midst of loyal Americans, and that he could speak freely.

Runes: OK, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but what if someone in the crowd was actually disloyal to America but attempted to fool you by saying the pledge of allegiance?

Public: Doesn’t matter. Once you say the words, your allegiance has been pledged. You can’t go back on it. It’s in the books. “All your allegiance are belong to us,” as the kids say.

Runes: So the pledge has magical powers, is what you’re saying.

Public: It helped us win the Cold War, didn’t it?

Runes: Uh…

Public: I have to go now. My unicorn is here.