Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Day Roundup / Open Thread

Whether he saw sunshine or he saw shadow, the groundhog is now predicting Sequestration Spring will be sprung upon us right on schedule. Austerity does appear to be in our future, after all, even though it has been proven not to work. For society as a whole, that is.  But if it works out for the plutocrats, then it's all good. The poor can never be too thin, or the rich too rich.

But there's more important stuff to talk about. For instance, a pile of squishy little purple balls has been found in the Arizona desert! Nobody knows what they are or how they got there, although some people think a plant food prankster dumped them there as a joke, since they resemble those little fertilizer globules you stick in your potting soil. Or they could be deep space excreta, or genetically modified grapes. Maybe Governor Jan Brewer will announce they are the long-lost innards of those desert torsos she once claimed to have seen. You decide:

From the Department of Tell Us Something We Don't Already Know: President Obama shoots clay pigeons. It seems that a national scandal had been brewing about the possibility that Obama is just another slimy politician who merely claims to love guns in order to appease the NRA. The national corporate media had kept up a cacophany of demand until the White House finally released the photo to prove Obama's gun cred. Too bad the courtiers of the press don't make a similar outcry about his Kill List and drone assassinations and demand that he produce his alleged User's Manual.

From the Department of Delicious Irony: About 70 Harvard University students have been disciplined after they were caught cheating in a class called "Introduction to Congress." Their defense is that they didn't really cheat because it was a take-home test and besides, you learn about Congress by emulating Congress. Congress critters, too, mainly do their cheating out of C-Span view. But rest assured that at least Harvard treats its cheaters the same way Congress treats its own bad apples. The kids are getting off with warnings or temporary suspensions. There is no mass expulsion.  They will be allowed to stay or return after a brief sabbatical. It is rare that a person of privilege ever gets kicked out for life. Congressional punishments for such transgressions as graft and bribery range from public embarrassment to a slap on the wrist to, at worst, a censure. See: Charlie Rangel, and now, potentially, Bob Menendez. (D-Boardwalk Empire.) Meanwhile, the New York Times is concerned that senators are not being polite to one another.

From the Department of Entomology: Paul Krugman gingerly compares the philosophy of austerity (not the scolds themselves) to cockroaches who keep coming back even when you flush them down the toilet. In my reply, I am not quite so circumspect:

Another thing about cockroaches and deficit scolds: they'll initially scurry away when you startle them with a bright light, But once they realize that the glare of truth and facts can't really hurt them, they come back for more, more and more. They wave their tentacles at us with impunity.
Like most insects, cockroaches and deficit scolds only work in teams. You never see just one cockroach all alone against the world, just like you never see only one austerian being attacked by five Keynesians in any typical panel discussion. It's always the opposite, to give the impression that the anti-austerians are an endangered species. Or that the can of Raid has lost its oomph.
Be they literal or figurative, cockroaches always leave behind a noxious trail in order to quickly rediscover their food source. They are omnivorous and insatiable. They crave media attention, they crave tax breaks, they crave even the tiniest leftover crumbs of whatever meal they last managed to steal from their starving victims.
They may be stupid. But predatory vermin that they are, they have a keen olfactory sense. They can smell the weakness in the alleged guardians at the gate a mile away. And then they swarm.
From the Department of Pure Evil: yet another high-ranking honcho in the Cult of the Red Beanie (credit, Charles Pierce) has been exposed as an accessory before, during and after the fact of the  priest sexual abuse scandal. I think we should finally just call out this cabal out for what it is: an International Pedophile Ring. In a just world, they'd all be taking refuge in the Vatican Embassy as Interpol surrounded them. In the real world, only Julian Assange is surrounded by Interpol as he is held hostage in an embassy for the crime of speaking truth to power.


Zee said...

Cockroaches have also been around for about 350M years, so don't expect them to be eradicated any time soon.

Like politicians of any stripe, they're adaptable little buggers.

Suzan said...

I would say "Amen!"

But then I'd have to believe in some god zapper bringing weird justice to our world, so I'll just say . . .

You rule, Karen!


I think we should finally just call out this cabal out for what it is: an International Pedophile Ring. In a just world, they'd all be taking refuge in the Vatican Embassy as Interpol surrounded them. In the real world, only Julian Assange is surrounded by Interpol as he is held hostage in an embassy for the crime of speaking truth to power.

Anne Oakley said...

Ok, I can't resist commenting on the Obama photo shoot since Zee isn't going there.

Obama looks like this is his first skeet shoot, or maybe his buddies 'accidentally' forgot to warn him that you have to hold a shotgun butt lower and more snugly into the shoulder or you end up with a painful bruise from the kick. They must have gotten a good chuckle.

Also, Obama doesn't look to even be tracking his 'bird' before firing, as evidenced by his pointing level with the ground, probably right at the launching machine - hope he missed.

The photographer definitely scored a hit. With his perfect timing, he actually showed us the smoking gun - something rarely seen around Washington.

Zee said...

@Annie Oakley--

I hadn't even thought about bringing up the photo of Obama out skeet shooting today, but since you've broken the ice, may I say that your observations are "spot on."

Moreover, skeet shooters generally adopt an agressive stance, leaning forward into the shotgun in order to absorb recoil, and also to maintain a proper stance if they're at a station calling for a second shot.

Obama has the upright, indeed, almost sway-backed posture of a beginner, which will guarantee that he will have been knocked off balance if a second shot is called for.

If he's shot skeet "a lot," it certainly doesn't show in the form he displays in the picture.

Oh, the fun we "skeet truthers" are having with a single photograph and no on-the-record observers!

Denis Neville said...

"Those people never go away. It's an ongoing, never-ending battle. At some point, you want to be able to say you've won - if not the war, you want to be able to say you've won the battle. But the moment you win the battle, and you know you've won - the war continues. Because these people, they're like cockroaches, they just keep coming back."

That was Rush Limbaugh describing “Leftists” in 2011.

In the early 1990s, a Rwandan Hutu radio station, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), frequently referred to Tutsis as "cockroaches." “They are cockroaches. We will squash the infestation. This is RTLM, Hutu power radio." The cover of a Rwandan magazine displayed a machete and asked, "Which weapons are we going to use to beat the cockroaches for good?" Over 800,000 people - 20% of the country's total population – died in the Rwandan genocide.

The overwhelming negative image of the cockroach makes it ideal for describing (or demonizing) political enemies and evoking powerful emotions.

I have no sympathy for the austerians, but depiction of them as cockroaches trouble me.

The cockroach, or other destructive dehumanizing language, is a potentially troublesome metaphor for describing political adversaries. Names will never hurt us in most cases, but history has shown the cockroach metaphor can indeed be harmful.

It is hardly an original observation that a first step to inhuman treatment is often the use of insect metaphors to describe those of whom we disapprove. Nazi propagandists portrayed Jews as small unclean insects and called upon all good Aryans to squash Jews and members of other ‘inferior races’ like ‘roaches on a dirty wall.’ Goebbels wrote: ‘It is true that the Jew is a human being, but so is a flea a living being - one that is none too pleasant . . . our duty towards both ourselves and our conscience is to render it harmless. It is the same with the Jews.’

4Runner said...

I am a former altar boy member of the Cult of the Red Beanie and must confess that in the 8th grade I lusted seriously (in my heart) after my teacher, Sister Mary Constance. She asked me one morning after recess, "Are you getting enough food at home?" (Lucky me, I was very skinny.) Although I insisted that yes, I was, she told me to stay after class. And thereafter every afternoon she'd slip me a snack (apple, banana, candy bar) to "fatten me up". That never happened but I did have some delicious teenage wet dreams about her. She was young and pretty--unlike your typical Sister of Mercy--and would always pat me softly on the head (trying to slick down my cowlick?). But there was never any hint of sexual contact. None, I swear, nun.
I published a fleshed-out version of this tale several years ago in the Montreal Gazette and later got to wondering if there were nun pedophiles. It turns out yes. Google the subject and the very first link is to a scholarly article in a law review that cites several cases and examines why victims are less likely to report such "sisterly" abuses. A bit of a legal slog, but worth it.

Will said...

Bless me, Father, for I must also confess to a schoolboy crush on my very own Sister Stunning back in the day. I used to daydream of our life together after she'd come to her senses, have a "change of habit," and run away with me. Speaking of...

P.S. Happy Bread & Circuses Sunday, everybody. Go 49ers!

Pearl said...

Re: President Obama's skeet shooting photograph, Annie Oakley's detailed
descriptions of how this is an arranged photo op picture rings true.

I have never fired a gun but I have seen people on a number of occasions skeet shooting and I clearly recall that they aim the gun low at the start but wait until the object is flying high before shooting and stand tall with the gun aiming or raised up. His stance with the gun looks awkward to me. Maybe the NRA will be our salvation by weighing in on the poseur. Even if it was real, the reasons for this photo shoot are obvious.

I wonder whom he really had in view?

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks, Denis, for the history of the cockroach slur. Had I remembered that it had been used in such vile contexts, as a prelude to extermination, and by such villains and despots,I would have thought twice. Certainly don't want to be seen as co-opting rw language. Among my many faults, I have a tendency to get carried away by tasteless metaphors. From now on when I wish to insult the austerian plutocrats I will use another zoological term, such as snakes. I certainly have no wish to see the banksters bodily annihilated but I do think their institutions should have failed and/or been broken up. That also goes for the single- ownership media congloms. Anyway, calling them cockroaches is insulting to cockroaches.

Jay - Ottawa said...

No, no, Annie & Zee ….

Can’t you tell by his light clothing, the heavy tropical foliage and that elephant gun? He’s on an African safari to bag a rogue elephant.

Problem is, he kept missing the elephant but somehow managed to waste every one of the hunting party’s beasts of burden.

If you go on a White House tour these days, you’ll never see an elephant trophy over a fireplace as in Teddy Roosevelt's day. Instead, scores of jackass hides flat on the floors to tread upon.

James F Traynor said...


Oh please, not snakes! Extremely useful animals - especially in rodent control. I know too many people who kill them on sight. Even the poisonous sakes have their roles and we need have little fear of those, if we exercise reasonable caution in the areas which they inhabit.

Obama and the gun? I haven't looked hard at a photograph of a politician with a gun ever since Dukakis and the tank (formidable gun that, 90mm at least). And my aversion was reinforced with the picture of Kerry and shotgun in a brand new shooting jacket. Under all circumstances Democrats should avoid being photographed with guns.

Yes, an awkward stance. Brought back memories of a young boy of 16, me, and my first shot at live game, a squirrel. It was a single shot, 16 gauge H&R and in my excitement I shouldered it improperly and was rewarded with a fat lip from the exposed hammer. I survived, but unfortunately the squirrel didn't. I haven't hunted for a very long time, not since hunting ducks for the pot and as a trade for beef during our financially challenged years.

As well as the stance, the explosive gases from the gun interested me, particularly the cloud at right angle to the muzzle. Probably from ports in the barrel(s) of that over and under; the noise must be something awful. I understand they do that now in custom guns - shows how long I've been away from the subject.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Oh, the smoke?

In between shots in the direction of the Democratic jackass he's sneaking cigs and blowing smoke down the barrel. This is all in practice for blowing smoke elsewhere when he gets back to his desk.

Zee said...


You're quite right about the barrel porting, though with improved manufacturing techniques it's commonplace even on "production" guns these days.

I haven't found that it significantly increases noise or muzzle blast, but it does appreciably reduce "muzzle jump."

All those little holes require cleaning, however, and it's a pain in the butt. They never seem to actually come clean of powder residue.

As to the actual source of the smoke in the photo of "Obama's skeet-shooting adventure," however, Jay may well be right.