Archive for January, 2010


Don’t They Know What’s Good For ‘Em?

The BBC is running a charming story about how stupid Americans are, at least according to some smarmy British political scientist (*snicker*). You know: false consciousness and all that. The idiots don’t know what’s really good for them. The fulcrum of the argument is President Obama’s ambitious and embattled health care plan, once the flagship program on the Democrats’ agenda. Alongside scary pictures of scary old women shouting and arch references to “barely suppressed violence,” the story laments we Americans’ barbarous and uncivilized (or is that ‘uncivilised’?) opposition to nationalized health care:

[I]t is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform – the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state – are often the ones it seems designed to help.


It might be tempting to put the whole thing down to what the historian Richard Hofstadter back in the 1960s called “the paranoid style” of American politics, in which God, guns and race get mixed into a toxic stew of resentment at anything coming out of Washington.


If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.

They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.

There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.

Well, thank goodness the BBC is here to treat us otherwise, what with their patronizing anecdotes about Al Gore’s stuffy adherence to facts losing out against Dubya’s populist scare mongering. Oh, and apparently President Obama really screwed the pooch by not trying to pin the problems plaguing his administration on his predecessor:

Obama’s administration made a tremendous mistake by not immediately branding the economic collapse that we had just had as the Republicans’ Depression, caused by the Bush administration’s ideology of unregulated greed. The result is that now people blame him.

Evidently the BBC and the brilliant academics it consults with haven’t been keeping track of the number of times the word “inherited” has been used since January 20, 2009. But none of that matters, it seems, because the Republicans have evidently become adept at “blinding” their constituency to its own “real interest” which means, evidently, “voting for Democrats”:

[Thomas Frank, author of “What’s the Matter With Kansas”] believes that the voters’ preference for emotional engagement over reasonable argument has allowed the Republican Party to blind them to their own real interests.The Republicans have learnt how to stoke up resentment against the patronising liberal elite, all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking.

Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs.


[W]hen the politicians say to the people protesting: ‘But we’re doing this for you’, that just makes it worse.

Yes we can! Hope and change!! Wait, what was that you were saying about patronizing intellectual snobbery?


Australia will not abide small breasts

Boing Boing is reporting that the Australia Classification Board (read: censorship board) has banned small breasts from pornography on the grounds that it promotes paedophilia. A concerned party wrote to the site claiming:

“We are starting to see depictions of women in their late 20s being banned because they have an A cup size. It may be an unintended consequence of the Senator’s actions but they are largely responsible for the sharp increase in breast size in Australian adult magazines of late”.

Unintended … sure. This story is making the rounds across the Internet. It seems the ACB might have its, er, hands full trying to explain itself.

But seriously, good work, Australia. This sends a great message to women who weren’t endowed with comically oversized boobs. Australia has also banned depictions of female ejaculation (calling it “abhorrent”) and M-rated video games.

Alternate titles for this blog post include: “Australia forms itty bitty titty committee” and “Australia: ‘Tits or GTFO’.”


Reed Students Oppose Choking Chickens

If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest, you’re probably well aware, at least by olfactory recognition, of Reed College — the nappiest, liberal campus you’ll find this side of Berkeley circa 1968.

Well, Reed has a tradition of hosting a week of “alternative education” where students receive institution funds to teach classes on whatever they like, such as farming, stripping (no, seriously), or just generally being a waste of space.

Inside Higher Ed reports on the strange but predictable saga of Reed student Gabriel Holt, who decided it would be cool to teach a class on how to properly slaughter and dress a chicken:

Last Sunday, Holt was supposed to lead a demonstration on “how to properly slaughter, clean and dress a chicken.” In his mind, the course was supposed to help students build a closer connection to their food and understand how to eat poultry in a more responsible fashion, with an eye toward sustainability. “In Portland, there’s a great movement toward urban agriculture and urban homesteading,” Holt said.

You can probably guess what happened next. Weepy animal rights activists threw a tantrum, sent letters, felt important, etc. Holt received threatening letters via e-mail and facebook — all the usual mob tactics (definitely not a safe space).

Holt, sick of stupid hippies all up in his face, decided to be the bigger, more awesome man and canceled the chicken-killing part of the class. But, not wanting to completely disappoint the students who paid for the class, he used the money to buy already-dead chickens and beer for a party.

With his event scheduled to go ahead, minus the controversial slaughtering, Holt awoke last Sunday to a surprise. The four hens he and his housemates kept in a chicken coop in their backyard – for strictly egg-laying purposes – were gone. He suspects that someone raided the coop in the middle of the night, thinking that these were the chickens to be slaughtered.

“I’ve never raised chickens for meat purposes,” Holt said. “The farm that I had originally planned to get old hens for slaughtering at – before I canceled the event – is actually planning slaughtering classes this spring, so the hens I was going to buy will probably be killed anyway.”

Hippies: Even when they win, they still lose.


Spinning Out of Control

This whole Pacifica Forum fiasco has swiftly traversed the distance between plain stupid and outright farcial. The posturing and illiberal zealotry of those clamoring to have the Pacifica Forum banned from campus — in the name of “the students,” natch — have pitted those who sincerely believe in freedom of speech, even if it’s organizations like the Pacifica Forum doing the speaking, against a self-righteous mob of self-proclaimed “anti-fascists,” whose rhetoric is so over-heated that it’s in danger of commencing nuclear fusion (see, for example, “The Black Tea Society’s” crass “do we have to wait for them to start loading us onto the trains?” sputum).

Now, according one of the two Pacifca-related opinion pieces published in last week’s Eugene Weekly (those poor protesters just can’t get a fair shake!) in the wake of the massive disruptions these self-styled antifa kids have visited on the Pacifica Forum (hint: using your freedom of speech to shout down someone else, even if that “someone else” is a Nazi, is censorship, which is exactly what the Pacifica Forum goons have been complaining about all along), the Eugene Police  Department has been called in to keep order. The response could not have been more predictable, with student activists like the Student Insurgent’s Cimmeron Gillespie declaring, in his usual level-headed way, that the use of police officers to keep an angry mob of hundreds of outraged, self-righteous protesters from engaging in any mischief “a severe escalation by the university to defend those who would use our campus to recruit for hate organizations.”

In short, Mr. Gillespie seems to be implying that the Pacifica Forum does, in fact, require defending. “Against what?” one might ask, though the fast-and-loose attitude malignant phonies like Cimmaron Gillespie have toward other peoples’ Constitutional rights, to say nothing of their increasingly unhinged rhetoric might provide a few signposts.

In light of all this, the Weekly’s other Pacifica Forum article, describing Billy Rojas’ purported threats to sue people for defamation, comes off as a bit laughable. If indeed. Mr. Rojas intends to sue critics of the Pacifica Forum for pointing out the organization’s well-documented anti-Semitism and other “gutter bigotry,” to quote former UO President Dave Frohnmayer, then he most certainly deserves to lose. The article’s author, however, isn’t content with merely recounting the group’s various outrages. Before glumly admitting that the “government is compelled to allow legal speech,” he writes

Over the past six years PF principals have consistently mentioned suing various people for defamation. Although these threats are groundless, there is concern that this new very public threat may have a chilling effect on people who are critical of PF programs. Threatening lawsuits is a cheap way to intimidate and silence critics. [emphasis added]

One can only wonder what Mr. Williams thinks about the “chilling effects” on free speech that screaming, black-clad mobs and “loading us onto trains” talk has on people who one day might be tempted to say something that runs afoul of his cherished “community values.” Despite dishonest attempts at linking the Pacifica Forum to instances of racial violence around Eugene, it seems clear and unambiguous that, for all the disgusting ideas they hold, the Pacifica Forum has never tried to impose its will upon anyone, nor to prevent any group from peaceably assembling.

The “anti-hate” activists, however, have done both of those things in recent weeks. They are, moreover, proud of it, casting anyone who disagrees with them as “defenders of hate.” Perhaps it would do them well to remember the slogan “terror must be broken by terror.”

More than that, it might do them well to remember whose slogan that was.


Now THIS Is How You Save an Ailing Auto Industry

Just more evidence that Vladimir Putin is way cooler than any President we’ve had in decades:

Vladimir Putin drives a Lada Niva to support Russia’s domestic car industry. Never mind that it has a German engine.


[Lada] has been the butt of jokes since Soviet times, and sales in recent years have dropped as Russian consumers opt for European and Japanese car models. Indeed, Putin’s remark wasn’t too far off from the old Russian joke “What do you call a Lada with brakes?”

The answer: Customised.

But Putin has said the Niva could help buck [the] trend [of Lada’s decreasing sales], and insisted the car is worth buying. “They are relatively cheap cars by European standards, and the quality’s not bad,” he said.

Maybe I’ll think about buying GM when I see Barack Obama cruising around in a camouflaged Chevy Aveo.


I just noticed this very story was also covered over at The Truth About Cars, who add: “In other car-salesman-in-chief developments today, Barack Obama revealed that he believes GM is a world-class automaker because his Cadillac is so badass.”



Fan Mail: In Which I Piss off everybody

If there’s one thing you can count on during a good controversy, it’s that both sides hate the news coverage. Submitted for your enjoyment, two e-mails that have floated into my inbox recently:

Dear Emerald: Congrats on the Pacifica Forum protest,where you savagely harrassed and censored the bad,evil Nazis,and refused to let them speak.Now,since you are so good at censorship,why do you not do us all a favor,and censor the Black Tea Society,the violent and beligerant and overly vocal protestors,and also censor the Maoists,and the socialists,the black people,the orientals,and the communists,and all the Lesbians and gay people on campus?.And their groups??You have successfully censored the Nazis,so we expect you to censor everyone else,too,it’s only non discriminatory.Thanks so much.
sincerely, U. of O. Alumni, d h bucher, Eugene, Oregon (oops,also please censor the athiests,cause I’m sure you do not all agree with them, either.Oh,and the Christians,forgot them.)

Followed by this e-mail, which I received today: Continue reading ‘Fan Mail: In Which I Piss off everybody’


Bolivarian Democracy in Action

Expect excuses in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1…:

The Venezuelan government has taken six cable television channels off the air for breaking a law on transmitting government material.

The privately owned RCTV International, openly opposed to President Hugo Chavez, is one of those affected.

On Saturday the government had ordered RCTV to televise a government message, but the channel refused to comply.


Last week RCTV, along with 23 other cable channels, was redefined by the government as a national, rather than international broadcaster.

As such, the channels would now be expected to carry presidential addresses and government campaign material in what is an election year in Venezuela.

It’s the opposition’s fault, really. Chavez changed the rules so that they were required to air government propaganda. They refused. So whatever happens to them next is more or less a result of their actions, right? Can’t abide lawbreakers, after all.