Thursday, June 29, 2006

Idiot Short Subjects

Ahort subjects from the news.

First, Patrick Reilly's Cardinal Newman Society was featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education. I hate when whackos like Reilly and David Horowitz get coverage in mainstream media because it gives them a credibility far beyond what they deserve. Reilly is on a mission to make Catholic colleges more Catholic. So far, he has succeeded in getting the "Vagina Monologues" to be performed less on Catholic campuses -- only 27 times this year from 33 two years ago. At this rate, the play will disappear from college campuses by 2015 -- just about the time that the play becomes pretty stale. Reilly has hooked up with L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center (what a joke -- this blog has more research content than the MRC) -- to build a direct mail base, largely by attacking schools like Boston College for backing the ban against military recruiters for discriminating against gays (so much for loving the sinner even if hating the sin). Reilly now has 20,000 members of the society. I don't see where that's much of a success -- 20,000 homophobes is just the tip of the iceberg in this country.

Second, the right wing media went nuts when Rush Limbaugh was detained at a private airport in Palm Beach because of questions over a prescription for Viagra he had. The prescription was not in his name, but his doctor's. The right wing media -- like Bill O'Reilly -- have charged that Limbaugh was treated unfairly. Of course, Limbaugh is on a probationary status because of prescription kiting for his Oxy Contin addiction. Carrying a prescription not in his own name is suspicious activity. Of course, this is highly embarrassing to Limbaugh. It's like finding out Sammy Sosa corked his bat.

Finally, it will be interesting to see if Attorney General Gonzales goes after the New York Times because of their revelation about the secret banking program. The Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times also ran stories on the program the same day. If the AG goes after the New York Times, he'll also have to go after the Administration-friendly Wall Street Journal. The Journal has been arguing that if the New York Times did not run their story, they would not have run theirs. I don't think that will be much of a defense. That would be like Julius Rosenberg saying "Gee, I only revealed atomic bomb secrets because I saw Klaus Fuchs doing it." My guess is that the AG will let this all pass, despite all the sturm and drang by the Republicans in Congress and the squeals of the right wing media.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Idiot Re-framing of Bad Behavior

Last Thursday night, Foothill High School (in Nevada) valedictorian Brittany McComb had the microphone cut off during her presentation of her valedictory speech when she defied school authorities by presenting an unapproved version of her speech. That version consisted of a number of references to God and the Bible.

As you can imagine, the conservative blogs are talking about her school authorities are persscuting her.

Really? The authorities would be well within their rights to withhold her diploma.

This is not a close call. The 9th Circuit Court, which governs Nevada, ruled in Lassonde v. Pleasanton Unified School District (2003) that speeches such as the one Ms. McComb was delivering "would amount to coerced participation in a religious practice."

In order to make sure that Ms. McComb's speech conformed to the court decision, school administrators reviewed an earlier draft of her speech, and cut the religious references from it.

According to press reports, McComb said she defied school authorities because she believed it was free speech issue. McComb told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that "I went through four years of school at Foothill and they taught me logic and they taught me freedom of speech." Obviously, she wasn't taught about the Establishment Clause.

The decision to cut the mike was booed by the crowd. I'm sure that parents felt bad about how it looked like a "child" was being embarrassed by "big bad adults". Yet, it appears that McComb went into the speech knowing exactly what she was doing. While I admire civil disobedience, please don't squawk when the punishment is delivered.

McComb plans to study journalism at Biola University, a private Christian school in La Mirada, CA.

Hopefully, she will learn more about the First Amendment, and what is truly freedom of speech.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Idiot Ann "Oops, She Did It Again" Coulter

Self-monitoring is a process by which individuals examine the situation they are in in order to determine how they should behave. High self-monitors are very much concerned with appropriate communication, while low self-monitors are concerned with their own selfish motives. Self-monitoring generally consists of three components:

(1) the willingness to be the center of attention

(2) sensitivity to the reactions of others;

(3) ability and willingness to adjust behavior to induce positive reactions in others.

Anyone want to guess where Ann Coulter falls on the self-monitoring continuum?

She was at it again on the Sean Hannity radio show yesterday (Thursday). Two things she said were typical of her lack of any understanding of logic. First, she equates her current number one ranking on the New York Times bestseller list as indicating a groundswell of support for her berating the so-called "Jersey Girls". Coulter's prior books have sold from 300,000 to 400,000 hard copies. Those numbers would qualify her as a bestseller, though not a blockbuster. Her cynical attacks on the 9/11 widows has generated a lot of publicity, and probably 1) prompted her normal book-buying audience to buy her book earlier than normal and 2) led to some people to buy her book out of morbid curiosity. Remember, NASCAR viewership has never been higher, but there's a chunk of the audience that is not watching to see drivers go around in a circle, but to see the crashes. Right now, Coulter's book is the equivalent of a car accident.

Second, Coulter asserts that liberals have not been complaining about the other claims in her book (that liberals are godless, that evolution is bunk, etc.) and are thus conceding that her arguments are correct. Ms. Coulter, here's a newsflash. Liberals are not addressing those issues because liberals are not interested in interplanetary dialogue. Your positions are so out there, it's not worth discussion. But, the viciousness by which the 9/11 widows are attacked can't be ignored.

The third claim by Coulter was the most troublesome. Twice she referred to David Corn -- who apparently gave her a prior bad review of her book -- as a heroin addict. If Mr. Corn is a recovering addict, the ad hominem attack was both gratuitous and cruel. If Mr. Corn has never been an addict, Ms. Coulter is in danger of being sued for libel (though Mr. Corn is a public figure, you can't libel a person out of malice, and revenge for a bad review would constitute malice).

Beyond yesterday's performance, Ms. Coulter has other problems.

1) She has lied about her age. She has claimed she is 43, but she is actually 45.

2) She is being investigated in Florida for voter fraud, not only giving a false address on her voter registration form, but also voting in the wrong district.

3) She plays fast and loose with the facts, and may have committed plagiarism -- check out the Huffington Post, the Rude Pundit and the Raw Story blogs.

I think it would be really entertaining if Ann Coulter turns out to be this usmmer's James Frey. Oprah, are you listening?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Idiot Constitutional Amendments

I think it is instructive that the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which brought us Prohibition, is the only time in the Constitution's history that it has been amended to limit individual rights (the right to drink alcohol) -- and is also the only constitutional amendment that has been repealed.

Over the past two weeks, Congress has been considering two constitutional amendments that would limit individual rights. The first amendment considered would have restricted the definition of marriage to marriage between a man and a woman, thereby denying an individual the right to choose one's life partner. The second proposed constitutional amendment would ban flag-burning, an act that the U.S. Supreme Court has already upheld is protected political speech.

Fortunately, the marriage amendment did not pass, and neither should the flag-burning amendment. These Congressional actions are part of a popular trend to use constitutional amendments (which has been very successful at the state level) as a means to solve controversial political issues. Voting these proposed amendments down should send a loud and clear signal that the Constitution should not be used for political purposes.

The Constitution provides an expression of our ideals of what a free society should be. The hurdles to amend the Constitution (2/3 vote of both houses of Congress, Executive Branch approval, 3/4 of the state legislatures voting for it) are there so that it can't be subject to the shifting political winds, especially when those winds threaten to blow our individual rights away.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Idiot Ann Coulter as viewed by Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan's comments on Ann Coulter that appeared on his blog on Thursday are too good not to mention here:

"But the problem with Coulter is that she is a form of camp, is she not? The minute you take her seriously, you lose grip on her reality. She's not a social or political commentator. She's a drag queen impersonating a fascist. I don't even begin to believe she actually believes this stuff. It's post-modern performance-art."

The full entry is at:

Unfortunately, her book is #1 on both Aamazon and Barnes & Noble.

Sad, very sad.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Idiot Ann Coulter Ego

Who came up with the following quotes?

Liberalism is a comprehensive belief system denying the Christian belief in man’s immortal soul.

The core of environmentalism is that they hate mankind.

Soviet engineers couldn’t make Jell-O. They’d show up at the World’s Fair and stare at a flush toilet like it was a rocket ship.

Howard Dean left the Episcopal Church—which is barely even a church—because his church, in Montpelier, Vermont, would not cede land for a bike path. Environmentally friendly exercise was more important than tending to the human soul.

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.

It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.

The first four quotes are from the first chapter of Ann Coulter's new book, "Godless." The second four quotes are from H. L. Mencken.

When Coulter was interviewed by Lou Dobbs the other day, he compared her to Michael Moore. She objected, preferring to be the "right-wing H. L. Mencken."

On what planet does Ann Coulter think she is that she would possess Mencken's writing skill, wit and insight?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Idiot Ann Coulter

I really don't like Ann Coulter. Part of it is that she has a voice that reminds me of chalk squeeking on a chalkboard -- every time I hear her voice, shivers go up my spine.

The main reason that I don't like her is because she is so symbolic of what is wrong with political discourse today. She does not know how to argue, and generally resorts to ad hominem attacks.

This morning, she was interviewed on the "Today Show" about her new book "Godless" -- another screed attacking liberals. In the book, she makes a number of claims, but two stand out. First, liberals "celebrate" abortions. Second, about the widows of 9/11 victims -- who dared criticize the Bush administration -- she has never seen women "enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

I won't even waste my time trying to refute her outrageous comments -- that's self-evident. But, it is stark reminder of the times we live in that loony bombthrowers such as Coulter are paid attention to at all in the media, let alone given any type of credibility.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Idiot O'Reilly Attempt at Historical Revisionism

On December 17, 1944, near the town of Malmedy in Belgium, the German SS battled the American 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion, successfully forcing the Americans to surrender. About 150 U.S. prisoners of war were sent to stand in a field where the SS proceeded to shoot them down. An estimated 84 prisoners were killed while the others escaped into the woods.

Those SS troops were later captured, and put on trial after the war. Of the 77 defendants, over 40 originally received death sentences, later commuted to life imprisonment.

What makes this historical tragedy interesting is that on this past Tuesday (May 30) on his show "The O'Reilly Factor," Bill O'Reilly cited the Malmedy Massacre in a discussion with Gen Wesley Clark. O'Reilly was defending the actions of the soldiers in the alleged Haditha massacre in Iraq, proclaiming:

"And in Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces, who had their hands in the air. And they were unarmed. And they shot them down. You know that. That's on the record. Been documented."

Amazingly, O'Reilly got it completely backwards.

Now, one would think that O'Reilly would issue a correction the next night. Wrong. In fact, in the mail segment, a viewer corrected O'Reilly. Donn Caldwell from Fort Worth, TX wrote:

"Bill, you mentioned Malmedy as the site of an American massacre durign World War II. It was the other way around, the SS shot down U.S. prisoners."

O'Reilly's response was:

"In the heat of my debate with Gen. Clark, my statement wasn't clear enough, Mr. Caldwell. After Malmedy, some German captives were executed by American troops."

Talk about chutzpah! Cover up a mistake with another mistake. While Allied troops did threaten to kill SS troops (as well as paratroopers) in the aftermath of Malmedy, there's no evidence any such abuses happened. Plus, as indicated above, the Allies had captured the perpetrators and, rather than slaughter them in a like manner, tried them instead.

But the best part of the story is this. You can go to the website and see the video of the segment with Gen. Clark and hear the segment:

"And in Malmedy, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces, who had their hands in the air. And they were unarmed. And they shot them down. You know that. That's on the record. Been documented."

Yet, go to the same site and look at the written transcript, and here's what you will find:

"And in ***Normandy***, as you know, U.S. forces captured S.S. forces, who had their hands in the air. And they were unarmed. And they shot them down. You know that. That's on the record. Been documented." [emphasis added]

Not surprisingly, Keith Olbermann, who delights in savaging O'Reilly, covered Bill-cum-revisionist-historian last night on his "Countdown" show.

It will be interesting to see if O'Reilly responds. Maybe he'll launch an economic boycott of Olbermann?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Idiot (and Offensive) Focus on Family Ad

The conservative group, Focus on the Family, has launched a print and radio campaign targeting senators across the country who have not agreed to support the most recent Congressional legislation

The print ad can be seen here.

The ad is idiotic. In its first paragraph, it declares: "The reality is that
homosexual marriages intentionally create motherless families or fatherless families. And a compassionate society would not deliberately deny a child a mother or a father." First, homosexual marriages do no such thing. Homosexual marriages would encourage two-parent families, which the research demonstrates is a preferable family unit to a single-parent family. Plus, if you follow its argument to its logical conclusion, then if one parent should die or leave, then the children should be given up for adoption to a mother and a father (after all, isn't a single parent raising children depriving those children of a mother *and* a father?).

The ad also says "The only sure protection for marriage — and our kids — is the
Marriage Protection Amendment. In just a few days, the U.S. Senate will have the opportunity to pass this amendment which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. It’s simple. And it’s as natural as motherhood and fatherhood." Gay marriage does not threaten marriage. Gay marriage does not threaten kids. But what this amendment will do is deprive between 5-10% of our citizens the right to the legal protections afforded heterosexual partners.

The Marriage Protection Act is just wrong! Not to mention idiotic!