Monday, April 04, 2011

Slow News Day

It's monday. Nothing's happening. A snarky reply I was dropping on a "Gawker" thread about tomorrow's expected reveal of a GOP proposal to, yes, privatize Medicare (i.e. why would conservatives want to piss off, of all people, senior citizens?) turned into a mini-essay, so I figure what the hell - might as well repost it here. Also, I like the irony of it running in-tandem with the ads for the awful-looking "Atlus Shrugged" movie Google keeps putting on the site... ;)

Actual text after the jump, those not wanting to hear/read political stuff advised not to bother:

"Sadly, it's quite the opposite - this is the GOP's version of (irony!) long-term political insurance.

They play the part in public, but the (actual) Republican leadership isn't stupid; they know that their onetime powerbase - big blocs of aging white (nominal) Christians who "like things just fine the way they've always been" - is being eroded, bred and straight-up reverse-gentrified out of existence. We're about ONE generation away from the old "guns god n' gays" scare-tactic being essentially useless.

GOP "brain" guys like, say, Rove or the NRO crowd, are both aware and TERRIFIED of the looming fact that 3 decades of "culture war" - of letting the "social conservatives" be their dominant public face - has left a huge scar on the broader "conservative" brand that can't just be "dropped" all at once: The "Christian Right" is short-term propping them up, but long-term poisoning them.

The ONLY play they have to remain politically relevant into the next decade is this VERY narrow window of space in-between Generation X/Y'ers earning grownup-sized paychecks and not yet having older-grownup-sized health costs; when "WHY SHOULD I BE PAYING FOR SOME OLD PEOPLE'S MEDS!!??" actually sounds like a sensible political position. This is also why you're seeing the old "welfare queen" stereotypes conflating race/gender with entitlement programs rearing their head once again - it's ALL about rebranding The Party to appeal to white suburban douchebags with MBA's burning a hole in their pocket who probably don't give a shit about gay marriage or abortion but are FLABBERGASTED as to why they have to get "SCREWED out of a job by Affirmative Action!!!" when "everyone knows" racism is totally over because they "never owned a slave or nothing!" ;)


Kent said...

I was wondering why suddenly the welfare queen thing was coming back so strong. However, do you think that the whole union thing in Wisconsin is going to hamstring the issue.

I mean it seems almost obvious that it was started by people not in the Republican leadership, and it seems to basically be toxic to the party by way of creating a domino effect of 'war on the middle class' stories coming out. Hard to attract those X/Y kids when they're making their lives much more difficult to make life easier for some 70 year old CEO.

MovieBob said...


The Union-busting thing is more about political-practicality than anything. Unions are to Democrats what (most) corporate lobbies are to Republicans: An ATM machine and a voter-producer. Powerful unions - particularly the various government unions or the SEIU - do the "astroturfing" for Dems the way megahcurches and the finance-sector does for the GOP; if you weaken them you decrease voter turnout, simple as that.

That said, notice that (for now, anyway) in Wisconsin etc. it's being framed as "only" about Unions for government employees; which is just more straight-up class warfare - The Right has carefully cultivated a popular image of "government workers" as being disproportionately made-up-of and in-service-of minorities, single mothers and other groups that the traditional Republican base (white socially-conservative men) are supposed to be mistrustful of at best ("Grrrr! Don't you hate the clerks at the DMV!?") and in direct conflict with ("Liberal public school teachers are handing out condoms and teaching Darwin!!!")

Notice also that the "essentialness" of a government employee is ALWAYS in direct-proportion to how supportive said employment-sector tends to be of Republicans: Public schools and their teachers are expendable/overpaid because they're overwhelmingly Democrat voters; but cops and firefighters (and to be clear, I'm NOT looking to disparage those brave folks, either - just looking for consistency) are a different story - after all, they tend to lean Right :)

Ironically, the economy being "bad but livable" as it is right now is the best POSSIBLE state of existance for conservative politicians: It's JUST tough enough for "screw everyone else!" to sound like simple pragmatism, but not SO bad that overwise "conservative" voters to have to recognize that sometimes the safety net make sense.

Samuel said...


The attack on teacher's collective bargaining in Wisconsin is actually the result of a different problem. The AFT is the union for most public teachers, and the AFT has done a fine job protecting both good and bad teachers from being fired. By taking away collective bargaining it would deliver a serious blow to the AFT, and it would make it easier for public school administration to fire their staff.

Still, the solution provided by the GOP to this problem is akin to trying to fix a ant problem in your childs bedroom by fumigating EVERYTHING with pesticide. Good public school teachers that the administration wants to cut for petty reasons would loose their union protection. Not to mention what you also said about unions; the AFT's biggest expenditure is campaign contributions to the democratic party. -_-

I honestly doubt the "Liberal public school teachers are handing out condoms and teaching Darwin!!!" is the problem in Wisconsin. If this was Mississippi, maybe... ;)

Silens Cursor said...

Tim, you're trolling or being a dick. Either way it's annoying and tiresome. Please find something better to do with your time, like getting hit by a bus.

Nick said...

@ Samuel:

"But the unions make it harder to discipline crappy teachers!" is just another strawman.

The reason teachers need more protection than other public employees is because teachers work in a war zone. The best teachers in the profession receive hundreds of complaints a year, from parents who have never met them and whose only knowledge of them comes from the tales told by spoiled entitled brats who want to make "It's not my fault!" excuses for bad report cards.

Teachers need protection because they are surrounded on all sides by people who are actively trying to destroy them.

Daniel said...

I have never agreed with you more than I do right now, good sir.

Elessar said...

Hey I agree 100 percent with Bob. I must comment and add my own commentary:

The problem is, if Republicans have a big weakness it's long term planning. Reaganomics (or however you spell it) may have looked good at the time, I don't know I wasn't alive. But if you want to see the long term effects? The 2008 meltdown.

The problem with aiming it at the aforementioned Gen-X douchebags, aside from the fact that it won't work for too long on them (simply because it will stop being economical for them) is that the Gen-X douchebags DON'T VOTE.

And I agree 100 percent that long term, the religious right is long term poison, both politically and to the long term welfare of this country.

ZAENGO said...
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Aaron said...
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Aaron said...

Well, I'm moving to Canada.

MovieBob said...

Hey, "Tim?"

Post #1: Gone because off-topic threadjacking and "eyeball-spam" (in the form of gibberish-blocktext) are both universally poor nettiquette, and you know better.

Post#2: Gone because you and others have been warned about verbally-harrassing fellow commenters.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MovieBob said...


See, that's the thing: Reaganomics may have been lousy long-term planning for the economy, but it was SPECTACULAR long-term planning for the GOP's electoral prospects ;)

Reaganomics/deregulation gave the long-"suffering" finance/corporate sectors such a massive delayed "oomph!" that they just EXPLODED in a giant moneygasm all at once in the 80s; so Reagan, the Republicans and fiscal-conservatives all got to take immediate credit for their ideas "working" - cementing their mythology as the "good for the economy" party for decades to come.

MovieBob said...


Nothing personal, but "no cussing-out other commenters" (yes, even "Tim") is a zero-tolerance thing here, much as I may agree with the sentiment otherwise.

RestamSalucard said...

Speaking of Bad moves by Republicans, what are your thoughts on the new Governator cartoon? Like the title says, this wasn't an april fools joke.

antecedentless said...

I think you are blowing the demographic argument WAY out of proportion. I was shocked that you honestly believed that the push poll against McCain in 2000 was, in fact, orchestrated by Karl Rove and was effective.

It looks alot like a liberal false flag campaign to me.
"Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote"

It fits the liberal template of religious conseratives, as you describe us, perfectly. Not only would such religious nuts who bestow personhood on a blob of cells bitterly cling to old fashion things like monogamy, but a DARK SKINNED illigatimate child?! That will really get their blood boiling. Nevermind the irony of Margaret Sanger's views on race and the poor.

The sooner Hermain Cain becomes the republican candidate for president the better.

Arman said...
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Arman said...


The protection offered by tenure is only a good thing when tenure is granted judiciously. The problem we have with teachers today is that 98% of them are granted tenure (in California, my state. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the number is similar in other states). There is no way that all 98% of those teachers are good, and they have that protection they will not be fired for performance issues. Period. Firing a bad teacher is prohibitively expensive thanks to the Unions.

Mind you, that's more of an administration issue than anything else (lest I be accused of attacking poor old teachers). Still, there's little a new principal can do if he has an old crappy teacher in the faculty. That needs to change.

Nick said...

There are numerous problems with that, Arman.

The main one is, there is no real way of solving this problem without opening up the good teachers to persecution as well.

Believe me when I say (and I speak as someone who has several friends and family members in the education profession) that every single teacher in the public school system has to deal with dozens (literally, DOZENS) of completely unfounded complaints per year, from the sort of people who threaten to sue the school every time their pwecious widdle slimespawn takes home a bad grade. Schools are VERY attractive scapegoats for parents who are looking for someone else to blame for their own shitty parenting and their kids' laziness and stupidity.

Even the "bad" teachers (which are not as pervasive as the pundits like to claim) have more made-up shit hurled at them than actually valid complaints. The few valid complaints are drowned in an ocean of horseshit.

Tenure and other such protections, while admittedly used as a crutch by bad teachers (though again, not nearly as often or as successfully as the pundits claim), is pretty much the only protection in the arsenal right now. Partially because there is no efficient way to separate the tiny handful of valid complaints from the ocean of absurd ones (do YOU want to investigate a hundred different allegations of misbehavior looking for the three or four that are accurate?), but primarily because there are no resources to introduce a more restrictive shield that will not immediately be pounced on by backstabbing assholes.

Arman said...

Frivolous accusations should not concern teachers. After all, they are frivolous. (Not that they have anything to be concerned about, they're impossible to fire)

I'm not for removing tenure entirely, but for weakening it. As of now its a nigh impenetrable wall of red tape. It should not take 2-5 years and thousands of dollars to fire a teacher (or any employee in any sector for that matter).

That or make gaining tenure more selective than it currently is.

Or, even better attach the money for education to individual families rather than to schools. As of now, government money for education gets spent on schools. A student gets assigned to the school that serves his or her district, and cannot choose another school unless the parents have enough money for private education. That creates a monopoly. Instead of that, give the money to the family and let them decide which school to spend it at. That way schools have to compete for students, and competition is good for everyone.

You'd have less complaints because if the parents do not like a teacher they can always find a new one. You'd have better schools because poor performing ones would be put out of business.

The Unions won't like it, but only because it undermines their power.

LK said...

You do realize Gen X is around the 35-45 age range, right?
Typically, it's the young ones that don't vote. Which may be for the best, in some cases. When I was 18, I didn't vote, and in hindsight, I realize I didn't know shit from shoe polish, so it was for the better.
Honestly, I think voting age should be pushed back up to 21. But, as a counter to why it was dropped, in the first place, military drafting age should be pushed up to 21, also.

MovieBob said...


I think the whole idea of age limits on voting is one of those things that neither party wants to start pulling threads on, because they know it doesn't end well for either of them.

There are 10 year-olds right now who are more on-the-ball than the majority of adults, should they vote? The argument against children voting, after all, is generally that they don't know enough about the world around them... but, then, plenty of Senior citizens have diminished faculties to the extent that the same could be said of them, so how's that "fair?"

There's always the prospect of scrapping the age requirements in favor of an intelligence/sanity test; I'm actually VERY much for that - but I'm also under no illusions that you'd EVER get it passed due to the (justifiably) ugly reputation such things have because of how rigged "IQ tests" were used to suppress minority votes in the past.

antecedentless said...

Ugh... It's spelled Herman Cain, and I meant to say "I was shocked to discover that you honestly believed..."

The money quote from the second link being "(i.e. George W. Bush gets to be the Republican nominee and later President after spreading a lie about McCain having an illegitimate black child in 2000)"

As for the characterization of "screwing [near retirees] over...", this is an honest attempt to leave _something_ out of that insolvent program for those who will depend mostly if not completely on Medicare. Personally, I am not expecting to get a dime of what I put into social security and medicare back when I am no longer healthy enough to work full time.

There are better ways to save up for such expenses.

David said...

I am totally agreeing with Nick about what he says about teachers' work environments. Some parents just don't want the thought of their child as a failure or a bad student to cross their mind. They couldn't handle it.

Matt said...

At the end of the day, it all comes down to this.

When you treat what is, for all intents and purposes, a JOB, like teaching is at it's core, like it's an life appointment for these teacher, you get abuse of power, as was seen with the well documented Group of 88 in the Duke case.

You get teachers who care less about there work then about some simplistic testing requirement they have to adhere to ((another wonderful government failure)) so that rather then TEACH actual useful skills, they drill kids on repetitive crap to make sure they pass the test, or you get teacher who abuse there tenure to make sure they can't be fired no matter how rabid and biased there teachings are, in either direction, and a school system so flawed and broken that American children are now raked among the poorest learners on Earth.

Rather then modernize and develop our learning system, were still stuck using methods and technology that in some cases is 20 years out of date. Exceptions exsist, but now, in this era, 50 to 80 percent of all learning should be using digital methods to teach rather then analog. Yet how many schools have barely 1 computer to every 40 students?

We have classrooms with upwards of 40 students vs 1 teacher, and in some schools, they need security in the worst classrooms just to contain them.

Here's the reality. Schools aren't about The teachers or the unions.

There supposed to be about the STUDENTS!!!!

Here's another does of reality. Unions DON"T GIVE A DAMN, about the students.

Yeah, don't tell me that we need to protect this system. A system so broken that we have kids killing each other, or themselves over bulling.

It needs to be sundered and rebuilt anew.

The unions are just the first part that has to go before we can start over.

I don't think the Reps know how to fix it, but the DEMS haven't had a clue about this in 30 years.

It's time the whole thing was reset to zero and started over.

And for those of you wondering how I know all this?

Yeah, 3 teachers in my family, Personal friend of my family was a school counciler for 20 years.

We've seen what the system is now.

What it is, is broken.

Oh, and I'm sorry for any spelling mess ups, I've always had a bit of a problem with that.

Nick said...

Well, Arman has once again demonstrated that he has no idea how schools actually function, and I have a feeling trying to educate him would be a waste of breath, so whatever.

Matt, I'm not entirely sure from your post if this is what you meant, but do you really think teachers' unions are to blame for the situation? Do you think unions have enough power to be responsible for the obsession with standardized testing, or that they are deliberately choosing not to just wave their hands and magically conjure enough money to pay for all the equipment necessary to migrate to digital methods of teaching?

I don't know where you get this from, if you're telling the truth about having teachers in your family.

And if you agree with me that it's a political thing, and then insinuate that it is divided along party lines, then answer me this: Which of the two parties is directly responsible for the standardized testing (do the letters "NCLB" mean anything to you?), and which of the two major parties is consistently attempting to gut the education budget?

Matt said...

@ nick

Let me clarify.

No one party, group, or person is to blame. All share some part in the downfall of the system.

Unions are 1 issue groups that focused so much on 1 issue, that they never considered the negitive impacts it would have.

Admins, both past and present, took a variety of tactics and methods, yet all of them failed. From the dems and there "SPEND SPEND SPEND" methods, to the NCLB crud, to the creation of standardized testing, and more.

Both parties have failed in this, as they keep trying to revamp a broken system them create a new one. In the age of modern technology, they continue to live in the past. They continue to defend a system that glorifies bullies and jocks, torments and abuses the intelligent creative, and spends more money on High school football teams, then it does on all math, science, and Music programs combined.

At the end of the day, no 1 group or person can be blamed, as it comes down to a long series of bad ideas and poor choices being made at all levels that eventually made the system a mockery of what it was meant to be.

Sad as this is to say. We all take the blame, and now, the only way I think we can fix it, is to start over again.

Arman said...


Actually, a simple test modeled after the one you have to take to become a citizen might be a reasonable requirement.

Basic stuff. How many states? What's the U.S capitol? Who is President? Who is Vice President? Who is the Speaker of the House? What are the two major parties? Name the three branches of government. Name the two parts of congress.

If you do not know the answer to all of these questions (none of which are hard), you have no business voting.

@ Nick

Translate: "I have no rational response, so I will dismiss what he said and move along."

And that's fine. It saves me time proving you wrong. That's time I can spend on more productive pursuits.


"Well, Arman has once again demonstrated that he has no idea how schools actually function..."

Did we ever have a previous discussion on education policy? If so, please remind me of the details.

And since I am such an ignoramus compared to your apparently flawless grasp on the subject, may I be so bold as to ask what makes you that much more qualified to comment?

Nick said...

@Matt: Thank you for clarifying. Sorry I misunderstood.

I agree with you a lot, but I think we have to look downward to find the root rather than upward.

You know what the number one factor of a child's academic success is? More than the teacher, more than the money, more than the background, more than anything? It's parental involvement. That is what will make or break a child's academic career, whether the parents are actually interested in helping their kids grow as a person, or (more likely) whether they just think of school as a rubber-stamp gold-star factory.

Really, this is the only possible end result of that "money depends on public satisfaction" version proposed by Arman and the "Social Darwinism" crowd. Schools HAVE to spend money on high school football teams, because football teams are what The Public pays attention to, it's how they get attention, which is how they get enrollment, which is how they get funding.

Matt said...


You won't get any dispute from me regarding the Parental involvment issue. Im with you on that one.

You hit the crux of the issue in a way. At it's core, the problems with schools is simply a refelection of our problem as a society.

We put to much focus on things like Sports, appearance, and the like, when we should be celebrating the thinker, the writer, the painter,inventor, the small bussines man. The people who make things, run companies honestly,that kinda stuff.

Instead, our society, or at least large sections of it, idolize rappers, sports stars, and people like charlie sheen?

It's not a surprise as to why our schools are in such trouble if that's the kinda people we hold up.

To be honest, my hero's ranged from Chuck yeager and Captian america to Bill gates. Though my #1 hero was my dad, he was a solder, scholar, and a career worker.

When our society starts treating it's inventors and scholars with the same revrence we give sports starts and actors, maybe then we'd see a change in how the system works.